Hanukkah starts on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev, which is the month of December in the Gregorian calendar. The Jewish calendar has no specified day lengths, so dates for Hanukkah vary year-to-year, but the holiday generally falls around late November and mid-to-late December.
What time does Hanukkah end?
This year, the festival got underway at sunset on December 22.
Tonight is the second night of Hanukkah and that will see the second light on the traditional menorah being lit.
In Jewish tradition, each 24-hour period begins at sunset, which today comes at 3.54pm GMT.
This year, the holiday ends at nightfall on December 30, at 3.59pm GMT.
READ MORE: Hanukkah WhatsApp greetings: How to celebrate Hanukkah with your friends and family
Hanukkah 2019: The first candle on the Menorah is lit at a Hanukkah event at Trafalgar Square
What is Hanukkah?
Hanukkah commemorates the story of the Maccabees and their victorious battle over the Greeks 2,000 years ago.
Antiochus, the Greek king, tried to make Jewish people bow down before a statue of him in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, praying to Greek gods.
The Jews refused and a small group called the Maccabees, led by priest Mattathias and his son Judah, fought back, eventually recapturing Jerusalem.
Hanukkah starts on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev
The Jewish people rededicated the temple in Jerusalem after rebelling against the Greeks
The Jewish people rededicated the temple and lit a menorah – a candelabra with eight separate candles – which burned for eight days with just a day’s supply of oil.
To commemorate the miracle, observers of Hanukkah will light the candles on their own menorah each night during the holiday for eight nights.
One raised candle in the middle of the menorah, called a Shamash, is used to light the other eight and the menorah is placed in windows or doorways as observers recite prayers and blessings.
People also traditionally play a game of Dreidel, cook foods in oil, and give gifts and money to children.
Yom Kippur 2019: When is Yom Kippur? How is Yom Kippur celebrated? – EXPLAINER
Rosh Hashanah 2019: Traditions, greetings, food- How is it celebrated? – EXPLAINER
Bible breakthrough: How Jesus ‘miracle’ site was uncovered during Jerusalem excavation
Observers of Hanukkah will light the candles on their own menorah each night during the holiday
How do you wish someone a happy Hanukkah?
Here are a couple of ways to wish somebody a happy Hanukkah in Hebrew.
To wish someone happy Hanukkah say “Hanukkah Sameach” or “Chag Sameach”.
The latter is a standard greeting for all Jewish holidays and translates as “happy holiday”.
If you want to go the extra mile, you can wish your Jewish friends a “Chag Urim Sameach”, which translates as “happy Festival of Lights”.
If you want a blessing for lighting the candles, you can say: “Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu l’hadlik ner Hanukkah”.
This translates as: “Blessed are You, LORD our God, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to kindle the Hanukkah light.”
Or a blessing for the miracles of Hanukkah reads: “Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, she’asa nisim la’avoteinu ba’yamim ha’heim ba’z’man ha’ze.”
This means: “Blessed are You, LORD our God, King of the universe, Who performed miracles for our ancestors in those days at this time.”