History of Hanukkah

Leya Brittain, Editor

The miracle of the oil that lasted eight nights has been celebrated by Jewish people for centuries. The untainted oil was only enough to last one single night, but stayed lit for eight nights until they found more supplies and oil.

The story of the miracle was found in one of the sacred texts of Judaism called the Talmud (tal-mood). This event led the Jewish sages to announce an eight-day festival to occur every year in honor of the miracle.

At the beginning of the week long holiday a candle is lit on a nine-branch menorah. Each night, blessings are spoken and recited throughout homes for family and friends.

Different games and traditions were added throughout the years to make the festival more fun for the children. One common game is the four-sided spinning top called a dreidel. It is altered from an old German gambling game that was based upon chance. Children can sit around in a circle with a small dish or plate in the middle with small treasures or money in it. Each side of the dreidel has a marking that indicates what chance that person has spun:


  • Nun – take nothing
  • Gimel – take everything
  • Hei – take half
  • Shin – put one in


Derived from a Christmas tradition, exchanging gifts has become apart of the Jewish holiday. During the sixth evening of Hanukkah, many families use the time to give gifts to charity and educate younger family members about poverty.

Hanukkah is another holiday for families to be together and celebrate a wonderful time of the year. 

You can find the history of Christmas and New Years in The Sandstorm magazine