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 TimeLines of Liberty
American Holidays  -  Hanukkah

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Hanukkah   -   Festival of Lights

Observed eight days from the 25th of Kislev.
Varies from late November to late December (Gregorian calendar)

TimeLine   -   Traditions   -   Links

     Hanukkah is the commemoration of the rededication of the Jewish (Beit HaMikdash) Holy Temple in Jerusalem. The Holy Temple was cleansed and prepared for the redidication. It was determined there was not enough oil to light the oil lamps used to represent eternal light (N'er Tamid) for all the Jewish households. Once lit the flame should never be allowed to die. Enough undefiled oil was found to light the lamps for one day. The flames burned for eight days when a new supply of oil was acquired.

Hanukkah  TimeLine
168 BC Temple The Syrian King Antiochus IV directed policies aimed at the Jewish faith. In 168 BC the Jewish Holy Temple (Beit HaMikdash) in Jerusalem was changed to a Greek temple with all the pagan idolatry.
167 BC Revolt Judah Maccabee and four brothers were the sons of the priest Mattathias. The brothers began three-year campaign to rid the Holy Temple of the Syrian desicration in 167 BC.
164 BC Revolt Judah Maccabee's revolt against the Syrians to cleanse the temple was victorious. In 164 BC the Holy Temple was reclaimed.
164 BC Holiday The Holiday of Sukkot was not observed in early fall due to the rebellion. The Maccabees chose to observe the holiday after the Holy Temple had been cleansed and rededicated.
164 BC Holiday
In the preparation for the dedication of the Holy Temple it was found that there was not enough undefiled oil to keep the 'eternal flame' burning. With only enough for one day's light miraculously the flame burned for eight days until a new supply of oil was obtained.
164 BC Holiday The Holy Temple was rededicated on the 25th of the Jewish month of Kislev in the year of 164 BC. The seven days of the delayed observance of Sukkot became the timeframe that was adopted for the celebration of the Temple rededication.
100+ AD Holiday
Nearly 250 years after the rededication of the Holy Temple Flavius Josephus the Jewish historian wrote of the origins of the celebration for the temple dedication. Josephus called it the 'Festival of Lights.'
200 +- AD
About 200 AD the Mishah was compiled to include the oral rabbinic law that was later to be included in the Talmud. About this time the 'Festival of Lights' became known as Hanukkah which means 'Dedication'. The Mishah gave no information concerning the observance of Hanukkah.
? AD Holiday
The Gemara (Mishnah commentary) of the Babylonian Talmud tells of the holday Hanukkah giving some details of the celebration, origin and stories associated with it. The Tractate Shabbot gives three lines on the origin of Hanukkah with three pages detailing the lighting of the N'er Tamid (eternal candle).
450 + AD Holiday The Talmud was completed 600 years after the Maccabee revolt. Extant version of the Story of the Jar of oil that burned for eight days was included. The mentioning was in context that on Hanukkah, fasting and grieving were not allowed.
Some speculation has it that the Rabbis in compiling the Talmud embellished on oral legends of a mircle of the lights to justify the holiday.
1800s Zionism the Zionist movement began in the latter part of the nineteenth century. The push for the reinstatement of a Jewish Nation (Israel) gave the Jews a nationalistic character rather than faith in God and belief in the Torah. The early Jewish fighter connected to the message of Hanukkah; Freedom and liberty.
1940s Zionism After the Jewish Holocaust Hanukkah took on meaning to those who experienced oppression to begin the experience of an identity, religious freedom adn expression. It gave many the need to fight for national independence. Hanukkah provides connections to the historical oppression of the Jewish people.
1943 Zionism Israel became a Nation in 1943.
© Copyright 2010 Roger W Hancock
Other Information/Traditions of Hanukkah
     During Hunnakkah one candle of the eight-branch Menorah candelabra is lit each of the eight days during the Hannakkah holidays from the 25th day of the Hebrew month Kislev.
Hannakkah was mostly unknown outside of the Jewish community until the late 20th century.
Due to the celebration being close to the Christian/secular Christmas, gift giving has been taken on as new tradition.
     Hanukkah is not mentioned in the Bible; it is one of the few Jewish holidays that are not mentioned.
Hannakkah means 'dedication' in Hebrew.
Different translators have spelled Hanukkah differently; Chanukah, Hanakah and Hannukah.

Traditional Foods

Most of the traditional foods are fried in oil as symbolic of the eight days burning of the Hanukkah eternal candle.
Cheese is often used to celebrate the victory of the Maccabees.
Deep-fried puffs dipped into honey or sugar called Louikoumandes are served with Soofganiyot and zelebi representing the cakes the Maccabees ate.
Pancakes symbolize the cakes hastily prepared for the Maccabees to eat during battle. The pancakes were fried in oil as a reminder of the long lasting oil of the eight-day flame.
Latkes were symbolic of the cheesecakes that were served by the widow Judith. Latkes later became the potatoe/vegetable fried latkes that are known today. Various cheese and dairy foods are eaten in memory of Judith.
In the United States the baking of butter cookies or pretzels in Hanukkah shapes are baked. A new tradition has emerged that the cookies and pretzels are made and consumed while children are told the stories.
© Copyright 2010 Roger W Hancock

Other Links:
TimeLine of Christmas

Sources for the TimeLine of Hanukkah:

Bible; Mathew 2: 1-14; Luke 1: 8-13, 23,24 - Bible; Luke 1: 5-47, 56-60 - -


© Copyright 2010 Roger W Hancock 


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