nHanukah(Judaism) an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem in 165 BC
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
nhanukahAmong the Jews, the festival of dedication. Josephus (Antiq., XII. vii. 7) calls it the “festival of lights.” It is the only post-Biblical festival of importance among the Jews. It begins on the twenty-fifth day of Chisleu (Kisleu), about the end of December, and lasts eight days (until the second day of Tebeth). This festival, like Purim (which see), is the occasion of much rejoicing. It is celebrated in commemoration of the defeat of Antiochus Epiphanes by the Maccabees (b. c. 164). When the temple was recovered from the defeated Syrians it was cleansed and the sacred vessels were purified. One vial of undefiled oil for the golden candlestick was found. According to tradition, that small quantity of oil miraculously continued to burn for eight days and nights until more oil was procured. In memory of this, the rabbis decreed the perpetuation of the festival. Orthodox Jews scrupulously keep the Festival of Lights. Special prayers and praises are added to the daily ritual. The chief feature of Hanukah is the ‘Hanukah lights.’ Every household and even every adult male is obliged to light them at home immediately after the evening prayer. One candle, lamp, or toper is lighted the first night, two on the second, and so on until the eighth night. An additional light, called shamash (‘servant’), serves to supply the light to the others. Two such lights are sometimes placed in modern forms.