Festival of lights celebrated earlier


How to play Dreidel. Infographic by Bella Witter

Bella Witter, Staff Writer

Hanukkah is a holiday celebrated by many, but often in the shadow of Christmas. A Jewish holiday, it celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem with traditions like the lighting of the menorah. 

The menorah is lit right to left similar to how Hebrew is read. On the menorah, there are nine candles. Eight of these candles represent the eight days that the oil lamp burned at the rededication, even though there was only one day’s supply of oil. The ninth candle is used to light the other candles and is called a Shamash.

“Hanukkah is celebrated differently by each family,” senior Noah Loggia said. ”Everyone will light candles and sing a prayer before they light them every night.”

On Hanukkah families give each other gifts much like other holidays, such as Christmas and Chinese New Year. Gifts are not part of Hanukkah tradition, so in 1920 Hanukkah was not being celebrated in Jewish American homes. Parents were encouraged to get gifts for their children, and soon enough Hanukkah had become very similar to Christmas.

” My family gives gifts each night,” junior Miranda Schuman said, “but some [families] do not do [give] gifts.”

Other traditions during Hanukkah include singing and playing games. A traditional game that is played, with a traditional song, is Dreidel, which is played with a Dreidel top and unique coins called Gelt. It can be chocolate or actual coins. When the game was first invented, it was used to secretly study the Torah. Which was the law of God, also a part of the Hebrew bible.

Jewish people cook and serve unique foods when celebrating Hanukkah. Traditional foods include jelly donuts called sufganiyot, a noodle casserole called Kugel, beef brisket, and egg pudding.

”We also make latkes,” Schuman said, “which are a form of potato pancakes.”

Hanukkah may not be as widely celebrated as Christmas, but it is a holiday that exists just like Christmas. About 39.2% of Fairfax consider themselves Christian, while only 0.5% consider themselves Jewish.

“It doesn’t bother me that not a lot of people celebrate it,” Loggia said. “I think it’s kind of cool just because it’s very special and unique.”