Jews celebrate Hanukkah

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The Feast of Lights or the Feast of the Rededication of the Jerusalem Temple. Hanukkah begins in Sunday evening. A new candle shines every evening on an eight-branch candlestick. The holiday itself refers to historical events connected with the victorious battle of the Maccabees over the Syrian-Greek king Antiochus-Epiphanes IV. These should have taken place in 167 BC.


The reign of Antiochus was marked by despotism and heightened religious intolerance. He banned the rites of the Jewish faith, dishonored the Jerusalem temple and committed many acts of violence. This was also related to the depopulation of villages and towns whose inhabitants fled to the mountains out of fear. After some time there was an uprising of the Jewish population against the superiority of the royal mercenaries. A number of insurgents died during the fighting, but in the end they managed to win. The liberation of Jerusalem and the temple there, which represented the religious center of Judaism, was of key importance. However, it was devastated and dishonored after the battles, so it had to be cleaned first.


After purification, they lit a candlestick with eternal light in the temple. When adding oil to the candlestick, however, they discovered that there was only one small container with the high priest's seal that contained the sacred oil. The shortest time needed to produce new oil was eight days. But the small container only contained enough for one day.


Tradition says that a miracle happened and this small amount of oil lasted for eight whole days. To commemorate the rededication of the temple, Jewish families therefore light eight candles for eight days - one each day. Hanukkah candles are held by a candlestick with nine arms. The ninth is used to fix the "shames", that is, the candle - the servant from which the others are lit.


No work should be done near the Hanukkah candles, also women should not do housework, until these candles burn out.