Hanukkah is known as the festival of lights. Jewish people light the menorah on Hanukkah to remind them of the miracle that happened a long time ago. The one day amount of olive oil lasted and burned for eight days, until new oil could be produced. We joyously celebrate Hanukkah by lighting the menorah and saying a Blessing.
Hanukkah lasts eight days, the same amount of time that the oil lasted when it was scarce.
What is a Menorah, and what is it used for?
The Menorah is a candelabra which is used to hold the candles through the duration of Hanukkah. The Menorah has eight places for candles, and another candle place, separated from the others. The separated candle place, is for the Shamash, or service candle. The Shamash lights the eight other candles. During the night of each passing Hanukkah day, we light another candle, one more than we did the previous night. We light the candles from right to left. Each candle represents one of the eight days that the oil burned in the temple a long time ago.
It is important that there are enough candles to last you throughout Hanukkah. You will need a total of 44 candles.
What is the Dreidel game, and what do the letters stand for?
Other than lighting the Menorah, there is a fun side to this holiday not only for children, but for adults, too. The Dreidel game is a favorite of many. To play, you spin a four sided spinner, also known as a Dreidel. Dreidels have four Hebrew letters in them, a nun, gimel, hay, and shin. They stand for "Nes gadol haya sham," in English meaning a great miracle happened there, there meaning Israel. If you play the Dreidel game in Israel, you would say "Nes gadol haya poe," meaning a great miracle happened here.
It is a tradition to give all children Hanukkah gelt, or gold chocolate coins. These coins can be incorporated with the Dreidel game. You can use the Hanukkah gelt as "betting money," like chips are used in the card game of poker.