Hanukkah begins this evening for our Jewish friends and others who might join them in their celebrations. I pray that those who are celebrating have a wonderful eight days! In the Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism Daniel K. Falk summarizes Hanukkah as follows:

“The Festival of Dedication (Hanukkah in Hebrew) commemorates the restoration of the Temple and dedication of the alter by Judas Maccabaeus in 164 B.C.E. It is celebrated for eight days, beginning on the anniversary of the defilement of the alter under Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 167 B.C.E., the 25th of Kislev (see 1 Macc. 1:59), the ninth month (it usually falls in December).”[1]

According to Falk ancient sources agree on the following traditions, “…it was observed in the Temple with feasting, abundant sacrifices, rejoicing, songs of praise, and music”, but the sources differ on matters related to other aspects like precedent (Solomon in 1 Kings 8 or Hezekiah in 2 Chronicles 29), and the origin of the eight candle menorah (the “one days oil lasting eight days” story or the “eight iron spears on which they lit lamps” story), for example.[2]

The festival centered in the home after the destruction of the temple in 70 CE.

If you’d like to learn a bit more about modern observation of Hanukkah there is info at the following locations:

About.com Judaism

Judaism 101

If you come across any useful articles on Hanukkah please share in the comments section. It is an eight day festival, so there is time to chat about it!

[1] Daniel K. Falk, “Festivals and Holy Days” in J.J. Collins and D.C. Harlow (eds.), The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010), 644.

[2] Ibid, 644-645.