The Hanukkah feast begins on the 25th of the month of Kislev, according to the Jewish calendar based on the lunar cycle, between early November and late December. It marks the winter solstice.
Hanukkah (“inauguration” in Hebrew) commemorates the inauguration of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, in 165 BC, after its desecration by the armies of the Syrian King Antiochus IV.
This feast thus recalls the victory of the Jewish family of the Maccabees over this king who wanted to Hellenize Judea and prohibited Jews from practicing their worship.
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After their victory, the Maccabees went to the Temple in Jerusalem to purify it and light a nine-branched candlestick (the menorah).
Instead of lasting 24 hours, the vial of oil kept the candlestick lit for eight days while it was time to make new sacred oil. A miracle, for the Jewish masters, who then placed this event under the sign of the light.
So, for eight days, every Hanukkah night, a new candle is lit on the nine-branched candlestick. For half an hour, Jews stay by the flames, singing praises to God and enjoying donuts.
To encourage the children to stay there, it is customary to play with a four-sided spinning top.