Hanukkah is sometimes called the Jewish Christmas because it is celebrated in the second half of December, around the same time as Christmas. In fact, nothing in common between the two holidays there. What is the Jewish holiday Hanukkah?

The holiday history begins in the II century BC, while Judea was ruled by the Greco-Syrian invaders of the Seleucids, who actively propagated their culture. In 167 BC the popular uprising under the leadership of the Hasmoneans — called Matityahu and his sons. After the death called Matityahu the rebellion led by his son Yehuda Maccabee, so the rebellion is known as maccabean revolt .

Three years later, the rebels freed the Temple in Jerusalem, previously occupied Syrian king Antiochus IV Epiphanies. The temple was desecrated, and his consecration had to light the temple lamp, the Menorah. For it had to be pure olive oil. But the Maccabees found only one jar. This oil would be enough for just one day of burning of the menorah, and the preparation of a new oil took eight days. But the Menorah is still lit, and a miracle happened: instead of one day of oil burned for eight .

It happened the 25th of the Jewish month Kislev, in memory of this miracle and celebrated Hanukkah, which begins 25 Kislev and lasts for eight days. In the Jewish calendar date of the holiday is fixed, but because the Jewish lunisolar calendar does not coincide with the Gregorian solar, the Gregorian calendar every year Hanukkah starts on a different date. Hanukkah 2011 begins on the evening of 21 December  (the Jews have a new day counting from the evening), and ends on the evening of December 29th.

One of the Central traditions of the holiday of Hanukkah is a special — ignition of the lamp, Hanukkah. Sometimes it is confused with the Menorah, but the menorah in the temple had seven branches, and in Hanukia nine of them. On the first night of the celebration one candle is lit, the second has two, third three and so on. It turns out that every evening the light becomes larger, and the last day of the feast are lit all eight candles. The ninth candle is Shamash (servant) — a service, she lit all the other candles. It is a little apart from the rest of the candles and the expense is not. You need to put a Menorah in a prominent place on the window or the front door.

Sometimes Hanukkah is called the children's holiday. The fact is that Hanukkah has many traditions associated with children. Yes, and children in Israel during this holiday go on a small vacation, while adults continue to work, because, since the holiday was established by the sages, and not mentioned in the Torah, there is no ban on working on Hanukkah days. It is undesirable to perform any work only during the time that Hanukkah is burning.

One of the "children" of the traditions of Hanukkah is game special top (in Yiddish it is called dreidel. in Hebrew sevivon  ). On the four sides of the top, the Hebrew letters "Nun", "Gimel", "Hey" and "Pei" are written. This is the abbreviation of the phrase "Nes gadol haya na" ("A great miracle was here"). Such a top is played in Israel, and in the diaspora instead of the letter "Pei" the letter of "shin" is written, and the phrase reads "Nes gadol hayya sham" ("A miracle was great there").

Usually play dreidel for pennies ("Hanukkah gelt "— money that parents give to children in honor of Hanukkah

Not complete without a traditional Hanukkah treats. This feast is usually served to the table dishes, fried in butter. Usually I cook potato pancakes. in Yiddish they are called latkes. in Hebrew levivot. and we know them as deruny or draniki. Besides latkes, they prepare andsufganiyot — yeast doughnuts. At one time Latkes was trained in Ashkenazi Jewish communities (mainly Germany and Eastern Europe, including Russia), and sufganiot - in Sephardi (Spain, the Balkans, Arab countries).

Hanukkah is the feast of purification, in which the Jews remember miracle, symbolizing the victory of the weak over the strong.