NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Sundown on Dec. 18 marks the first day of Hanukkah around the world.
Hanukkah, or Chanukah is also known as the Festival of Lights, Feast of Dedication or Feast of the Maccabees.
It’s a Jewish festival with many traditions that take place for eight nights and days.
The festival will end at sundown on Monday, Dec. 26.
Lighting the Menorah
Each night families light a new candle on a nine-branched candelabra which represents the miracle from the Hanukkah story. The center candle, or the shamash, is used to light the other candles. According to Jewish tradition, this represents the Maccabees’ victory over the Greeks and the rededication of the Jewish Temple to God – which was marked by the lighting of the Temple’s menorah. The menorah burned for eight days.
Liturgy and prayers
The festival is also commemorated with daily worship either at home or at a church, through readings, prayers, and singing.
Playing the dreidel
The dreidel is a spinning top that has four sides with Hebrew letters. Each player contributes something to the “pot.” Depending on what letter the dreidel falls on, a player would take nothing, take everything, take half or put more in.
Eating fried foods
Oil was traditionally the source of light at Hanukkah. That’s now been replaced with fried food like potato latkes and jelly donuts, which are two treats families eat during the festivities as a nod to the miracle.
It’s common among families to exchange gifts. Primarily, children get Hanukkah gelt. Gelt is usually in the form of chocolate coins, but sometimes real coins are given. Also, gelt is usually used as the “pot” when playing dreidel.
The Knoxville Jewish Alliance will be hosting a Light Up Knoxville Chanukkah party on Dec. 18. starting at 5 p.m.