As I am about to go on holiday tomorrow, I wanted to do a blog post about Hanukkah even though it is not for another ten days. Hanukkah is the Jewish Festival of Lights and it lasts for eight days. It is not celebrated on the same day every year. This is because the Jewish calendar is lunar so the 25th of Kislev, which equates to the first day of Hanukkah can in fact be celebrated on any day between late November to late December. This year, Hanukkah will begin on the 25th December and it coincides with Christmas. Jewish people around the world celebrate Hanukkah which in Hebrew means dedication and during this eight day festival they commemorate the Miracle of the Oil by eating fried foods like sufganiyot סופגניות (jelly filled doughnuts) and other foods cooked in oil.
The festival is observed by the kindling of the lights of a unique candelabrum, the nine-branched menorah (also called aChanukiah/Hanukiah), one light is lit on each night of the holiday, progressing to the eight on the final night. The typical menorah consists of eight branches with an additional visually distinct branch. The extra light, with which the others are lit, is called a shamash (Hebrew: שמש, "attendant") and is given a distinct location, usually above or below the rest. Other Hanukkah festivities include playing dreidel and eating oil-based foods such as doughnuts and latkes. Since the 1970s, the worldwide Chabad Hasidic movement has initiated public menorah lightings in open public places in many countries.