The Festival of Lights: Hanukkah

The Festival of Lights: Hanukkah

Adyan Al-Shamri, Staff Writer

Hanukkah is a holiday often overlooked.

The season has started again where people are putting up their Christmas lights and buying gifts for friends and family, but some are lighting their menorah. Hanukkah, a holiday celebrated by Jewish followers, is an eight-day holiday usually following in December. As this is a holiday celebrated by Jewish followers, and many Americans follow Christianity, this holiday often gets overlooked by many. In fact, many Americans don’t know the rich traditions and culture following the holiday.

As years pass and people are being educated on more topics, people learn more. However, there still seems to be a lack of knowledge. Elkhart High School sophomore Olivia Mann admits minimum knowledge on the subject. “All I really know is that Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday that spans eight days. It has a tradition to light a menorah with eight candles.” Fellow sophomore Olivia Lopez also jumps in to share her knowledge. “Hanukkah is a holiday celebrated by Jewish people during the winter season.”

With people’s knowledge of Hanukkah being of the lighting of the menorah and when the holiday falls, there is usually a reason behind it. This year Hanukkah started on Nov. 29 and ends on Dec. 7. Around this time, most Americans’ minds go to Christmas with the majority of families celebrating Christmas instead of Hanukkah. Mann has taken notice of this, as well. “I believe people don’t talk much about Hanukkah because not many people celebrate it as they do with Christmas in America. It often then gets overshadowed. 

The story behind Hanukkah is one many Jewish followers know by heart. Hanukkah is a celebration of a military victory over Jerusalem. A foreign ruler, Antiochus, had forced Jewish followers to abandon their practices. He tried to take over their religious temple, but the Jewish followers fought. The leader of the Jewish rebellion, Judas Maccabeus, won the battle and reclaimed the temple. The tradition of lighting the menorah comes from after the win of the battle. When they went into the temple, a small jar of lamp oil was discovered. Using the oil, they lit all the temple’s lights. With this, the light lasted a total of eight nights. All eight nights of Hanukkah are meant to commemorate the eight nights the candles in the temple burned. 

The rich story behind Hanukkah is one that deserves more attention,believes Lopez. “Learning of different cultures and religions is important. This is because there is more than one belief and respect for what others believe in.” Mann also jumps in to share her thoughts. “There is an importance in having a knowledge about other cultures and religions, because it helps someone to appreciate it and understand it more.”

Even if others might celebrate a certain holiday, it doesn’t mean they can’t brush up on their knowledge for the subject.