The Hanukkah celebration begins on the 25th of the month of Kislev, according to the Jewish calendar based on the lunar cycle, i.e. between the beginning of November and the end of December. It marks the winter solstice.
Hanukkah (“inauguration” in Hebrew) commemorates the inauguration of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, in 165 BC, after its desecration by the armies of the Syrian king Antiochus IV.
This festival thus recalls the victory of the Jewish family of Maccabees over this king who wanted to Hellenize Judea and prohibited Jews from practicing their religion.
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After their victory, the Maccabees went to the Temple in Jerusalem to purify it and lit a seven-branched candlestick (the menorah).
Instead of lasting 24 hours, the vial of oil kept the candlestick burning for eight days, long enough to make new sacred oil. A miracle, for the Jewish masters, who then placed this event under the sign of light.
Thus, for eight days, each Hanukkah evening, a new candle is lit on the seven-branched candlestick. For half an hour, the Jews remain near the flames, singing praises to God and eating donuts.
To encourage children to stay there, it is customary to play with a four-sided top.