Hanukkah arrived early this year

BY FREDA MIKLIN
STAFF WRITER

Every Hannukah menorah has eight candles or lights to commemorate the eight days of the holiday and one extra that is used to light the others.

Although many think of Hanukkah as the Jewish version of Christmas, it is actually very different. Although both holidays include gifts as a tradition, Hanukkah is the commemoration of the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem during the second century B.C., where according to legend Jews rose up against their Greek-Syrian oppressors in the Maccabean Revolt. The word Hanukkah means “dedication” in Hebrew. 

The holiday is celebrated for eight days because the Talmud tells us that when the Second Temple was rededicated, there was only enough olive oil to keep the menorah’s candles burning for one night, but the flames continued to burn for eight nights. That is how the holiday came to be known as the Festival of Lights and a celebration of life’s miracles. It is not a holiday that is considered as religiously significant as others.

Judaism has its own calendar dating back to the year 3761 B.C.E., which stands for before the common era on the Gregorian calendar. It is based on the date of the creation of the world as described in the Old Testament. On the Jewish calendar, the year is now 5782.  The Jewish year begins with the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, which means beginning of the year, that falls in September or October of the Gregorian calendar. Dates of Jewish holidays fluctuate up to a full month on the Gregorian calendar because the Gregorian calendar is based on the 365 days it takes for the earth to orbit the sun, while the Hebrew calendar is lunar, based on the 354 days it takes for the moon to complete 12 cycles of approximately 29.5 days each. Over time, this would cause the two calendars to be very much out of synch with one another, so the Hebrew calendar adds an extra month on a lunar schedule that results in it happening six times every 19 years, to bring the two calendars closer together. This spring, an extra month, Adar II, will be added to the Jewish calendar, bringing the two calendars more in synch. Since it is a year with 13 months on the Hebrew calendar, Hanukkah began early, starting at sundown on November 28.

The Festival of Lights will be celebrated at Greenwood Village City Hall at 6060 S. Quebec Street on Sunday, December 5 at 4:00 p.m. One week later, on Saturday, December 11 at 5:00 p.m, Greenwood Village will observe its annual Mayor’s Tree Lighting. All members of the public and familes are invited to participate in these community activities.

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