A Celebration from the East: Hanukkah 


A picture of Jake Wike’s menorah.

The 4th of July is a commemoration of the Declaration of Independence in the United States. This is a big deal to U.S. citizens since it symbolizes independence. The independence formed in the United States is similar to that of how Hanukkah is a symbol of dedication and freedom in the Jewish community.

Hanukkah also called, Chanukah, is the celebration of the ideals of Judaism and commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple of Jerusalem. In addition to this, according to legend, Jewish individuals had risen up against their Greek-Syrian oppressors in the Maccabean revolt. 

Although there’s a few different versions of the story, one of the stories is about the Jews fighting against their Greek-Syrian oppressors and winning their independence. But, the most commonly taught story tells the tale of when the Jews only had a night’s worth of candle oil and it miraculously lasted for eight days, which has led up to the most celebrated tradition of lighting the Menorah. 

Speaking of, throughout the eight days of Hanukkah, a Menorah, a nine-branched candlestand, is lit upon each day of the week. Lighting this special candle is used to commemorate the Menorah that lasted for eight days instead of merely one night. 

Although, things have changed from centuries prior to now, before the 1950s Hanukkah was a minor celebrated holiday for most Jews. Eventually, America commercialized and capitalized on Hanukkah. From Hanukkah being performed so close to Christmas, Americans have unfourtantley found a way to make a profit off of this holiday. 

Rather than Hanukkah being about tradition, over the years gifts are given more than ever before, simply because it’s centered around the Christmas season. 

“Hanukkah is supposed to remind young generations of what life is about, dedication. To be able to dedicate something at a young age and be able to do it for a while builds habits and makes a good person later on in life. Unfortunately, kids in today’s society see Hanukkah as an opportunity to receive gifts, which saddens me,” senior Seth Dillard stated.

Although many see Hanukkah as an opportunity to eat their favorite meals, the food incorporated into Hanukkah is usually food fried in oils, as a call back to the oil that lasted for eight days, instead of one. For instance, food eaten during Hanukkah such as potato pancakes or jelly doughnuts are fried in a sort of oil, therefore symbolizing candle oil.

Yet for many Jewish people, Hanukkah is more than presents and food, but instead is about upholding one’s belief and carrying on century-old tales to future generations. 

“Hanukkah is reminding me of my religious freedom, after a time we were oppressed, to have our freedom back is very important, Hanukkah also motivates me to fight for what I believe in, as my ancestors did,” sophomore Jake Wike noted.