Light the Menorah: Hanukkah 2012 Begins Tonight

The Jewish celebration of Hanukkah, also spelled Chanukah, begins tonight. How will you celebrate this year?

Hanukkah begins when the sun sets tonight and will end on Sunday, Dec. 16.

According to Chabad.org, Hanukkah starts on the Hebrew calendar date of 25 Kislev and lasts for eight days. For those of us who aren't attuned to the Jewish calendar, that translates to sundown on Saturday, Dec. 8.

Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, commemorates the story of the Maccabean Revolt against Syrian rulers in present day Israel 2,300 years ago. The Maccabees wanted to rededicate Jerusalem's main temple but had only enough oil to kindle the Eternal Light for one day. The oil lasted for eight days, according to the story, and the holiday of Hanukkah was born.

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“The great part about this holiday is that it can mean different things for different people. Everyone is free to celebrate in their own ways,” said Amy Breakstone, who hosts an annual celebration for members of the Gishrei Shalom Jewish Congregation in Southington each year. “It’s a time to bring light into everyone’s lives.”

See more on the local Gishrei Shalom Jewish Congregation celebration by clicking the link provided.

Today, Hanukkah is generally celebrate by gathering together with family, lighting one candle on the menorah each of the eight nights and eating special holiday foods such as potato latkes and babka.

Other customs include making traditional foods made with oil, such as deep-fried, filled 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."

How do you celebrate Hanukkah? Tell us below.

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