This year, Chanukah will begin in the evening on Thursday, December 7, 2023 and end in the evening on Friday, December 15, 2023.
Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, brings joy and sparkle during a dark time of the year. Beginning on the 25th of the Jewish month of Kislev, which falls in November or December in the Roman calendar, Chanukah is a time to eat delicious latkes, play dreidel, enjoy gathering with family and friends — and, of course, light Chanukah candles.
A Chanukah, or Chanukah menorah, holds nine candles — one for each of the eight nights of Chanukah, plus the shammash, or “helper,” which is used to light the other candles (the number of which increases each night of the holiday). Many families exchange gifts during Chanukah, too.
The Chanukah story goes back to the second century BCE, when the ancient Greeks ruled Judea and confiscated the Holy Temple.
The small Jewish Maccabee army staged a successful revolt. When the Maccabees took back the Holy Temple, they discovered that the ner tamid, the eternal light that burned continuously in the Temple, had gone out — and they only had enough oil to relight the lamp for one day.
Miraculously, the oil continued to burn for eight full days, the amount of time it took to obtain more oil. Then, as now, the burning flame lighted up dark days, offering a symbol of hope and gladness.
CHANUKAH WITH KIDS UNDER AGE 5 For small children and toddlers, Chanukah is experienced through the senses: beautiful candles shining, the taste of delicious, sweet, sticky sufganiyot, and evening snuggles with family. Introduce your little ones to Chanukah with stories like “Where is Baby's Dreidel” and “Hanukkah Lights”.
• Decorate a glow-in-the-dark pathway with your family to guide friends and visitors to your menorah.
CHANUKAH WITH KIDS AGES 5+ When kids get older it’s easier to involve them in traditions such as lighting the menorah or making latkes. You can also explore the Chanukah story in more detail, using it as a jumping off point for talking about what it means to be brave, thinking about the Jewish value ometz lev , or courage, and thinking about ways that your family can be “lights in the dark” for others. Great books for this age group include Hanukkah Cookies With Sprinkles and Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins. Check out a few more choices on the page at the right: