What is Hanukkah And Why Do We Celebrate?

Published: Dec. 17, 2017 at 5:02 PM EST
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Sunday is the sixth night of Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, and many celebrations are taking place around the world.

We went to one local party to see what it's like to celebrate.

Alyssa Thurlow takes us there.

Every year thousands of families come together on the eve of the 25th day of the Hebrew month, Kislev, to celebrate Hanukkah.

"Hanukkah is the Festival of Light and the Jewish winter holiday celebrates the miraculous defeat of the Greeks by the Maccabees more than 2,000 years ago," explained Rabbi Bill Siemers of Congregation Beth Israel.

Hanukkah comes with many traditions, including food, games, and one particularly important symbol marking the holiday.

"The biggest tradition of all is lighting the Menorah, which is lit every night for the eight nights of Hanukkah around sundown. The families gather together, we say the blessings, and thank God for everything, and we sing some songs," said Siemers.

Even the kids at Congregation Beth Israel in Bangor have some favorite traditions.

"Lighting the menorah because it reminds us of the, oh what's it called? The people back then."

"I like the food. I like the food. That's my favorite part."

One of the most popular Hanukkah foods is a latke, or potato pancake.

"it's like a pancake and a french fry all in one," said Amelia Kresge.

While there's plenty of activities to enjoy each night, many say the it's really just about family while adding some extra light into the world.

"The whole entire year your family is minded together, but on these eight days especially, like, each night you gather around the menorah, or the Hanukkiah, and you light the candles and say the blessings, and you all look at each other with delight as the fire glows, and you're so happy to be there with each other," said Kresge.

"It's the season of light and the darkest time of the year, and at all times of the year we need more light in the world," said Siemers. "That's what Hanukkah is about."