Hanukkah: A Festival of Lights

Hanukkah, or Chanukah, begins on the 25th day of the Jewish calendar month of Kislev, at sundown. Lasting eight days, Hanukkah usually occurs during December, but sometimes begins in November. This Jewish holiday is known as the Festival of Lights, commemorating the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem in 164 B.C. after three years of war. Hanukkah means "dedication."

Jerusalem at the time was part of the Hellenistic empire and was ruled by Antiochus IV. His government instituted a different religion from Judaism. When the Temple became a site of sacrifices and icons, the people resisted, sparking three years of fierce rebellion. The Maccabees led the rebellion and were triumphant in 164 B.C.

When they returned to Temple, they found that the Lamp of Eternal Light was gone. A simple menorah was constructed, but they could only find a small cruse of oil. With only enough oil to light the lamp for one night, the Maccabees sent for more oil to be prepared. Miraculously, the oil lasted eight nights until more oil could be delivered.

Hanukkah is celebrated over eight evenings and includes a symbolic lighting of the menorah each evening. Families have many traditions for this holiday, including family gatherings, meals, games, and the exchange of gifts. Visit the library to find out more. Happy Hanukkah!

On the Web

Judaism 101: Chanukkah
Find out about the history of Chanukkah and traditions like the lighting of the menorah.

Virtual Chanukah
Recipes, games and a Chanukah how-to. Includes audio and video of prayers, talks, and choir performances.


We have many children's books on Hanukkah, as well as a story of seasonal wisdom from our Kanopy Kids streaming video service:

CRRL Kids: Hanukkah: Light up the Night

Stories, old and new, to help celebrate Hanukkah.

In 1912, little Gertie feels left out of Hanukkah preparations, but her father's kindness helps her celebrate with the family. The All-of-a-Kind Family series, originally by Sydney Taylor, is a classic series set in the long-ago Lower East Side.

Everybody in the Knoodle family thinks he or she has the ideal present to give--after all, isn't it what they'd want themselves? A silly, sweet story for Hanukkah.

Grandpa tells about his childhood Hanukkah celebration, held in secret because of the Nazis.

In 1914, Rebecca, whose Jewish family came from Russia, has important decisions to make when the rest of her class is celebrating Christmas. Part of the American Girls series.

Find fun recipes for Jewish holidays. Make potato pancakes, gingerbread dreidels, matzah balls and more!

A sturdy board book introduces Hanukkah concepts, letter by letter.

In this rhyming story, a family of eight prepares to celebrate the eight nights of Hanukkah.

Moishe's Miracle author Laura Krauss Melmed and illustrator Elisabeth Schlossberg celebrate Hanukkah in joyful action rhymes, festive poems, and exuberant scenes of family life. From traditional holiday foods to the story of the Maccabees, they capture the warm sights, sounds, and tastes of this wintertime festival.

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