What Day Does Hanukkah 2012 Start?

The Festival of Lights is right around the corner. How will you celebrate this year?

The Jewish celebration of Hanukkah, also called the Festival of Lights, begins this year on Saturday, Dec. 8, at sundown.

In the Hebrew lunar calendar, Hanukkah is celebrated on the 25th day of the month of Kislev. Hanukkah runs for eight days and will conclude this year on the night of Dec. 16.

What is Hanukkah?

Hanukkah is a celebration commemorating the Maccabean Revolt, a battle between the Jews and the Seleucids, who ruled Israel more than 2,000 years ago.

The Jews drove the Seleucids out of Jerusalem and reclaimed their desecrated holy temple, according to the Chabad-Lubavitch Media Center

The victors found a one-day supply of olive oil that had not been contaminated by the Seleucids and used it to light the temple menorah. The miracle of Hanukkah is that the oil, which was supposed to last for only one day, burned strong for eight days—hence the length of time Hanukkah is celebrated today.

Click here for candle-lighting times.

The Festival of Lights is observed in modern times by lighting a candle on the menorah on each of the eight nights. Other customs include eating traditional foods made from oil including potato latkes and deep -ried donuts known as sufganiyot, and playing with a spinning top called a dreidel, which is inscribed with the Hebrew acronym for "A great miracle happened there."

California has the second largest population of Jews in the country, with some 1.2 million living here, according to a 2011 report by the North American Jewish Data Bank. New York has a population of 1.4 million Jews.

How does your family celebrate Hanukkah? Tell us in comments.

Jeff Stieber December 06, 2012 at 02:54 PM
This is how we celebrate Hanukkah at Stieber's Sweet Shoppe! http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=458122230910780&set=a.398966896826314.91995.386990941357243&type=1&theater
Jack December 06, 2012 at 07:36 PM
The greeting "Happy Holidays" incorporates this holiday and I haven't heard many of my Jewish friends complain that saying that is an affront and attack against their faith. Guess they are aware that there are other religions.
Mark Gold December 06, 2012 at 08:03 PM
My family celebrates Hanukkah by lighting the candles every night, eating potato latkes and enjoying family time together. Gifts are nice to give, but we don't make a big deal out of it the way some people do. Also, some families have a "Hanukkah bush" which is utter nonsense and a poor attempt to make the holiday seem more like Christmas. The thing is, Hanukkah and Christmas are two completely different holidays and have nothing to do with one another. Also, because of the way the Jewish calendar is structured, Hanukkah is celebrated at different times each year. Next year, for example, it falls on Thanksgiving.


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