Dear ALl, This year,the 1st day of Chanukah is 12/2 (Thurs), so tghe 1st candles are lit on 12/1 (Wedsi). Jewish days run from evening to evenign, "for the evening & the morning were the __ day (creation)." Because the first day & the 8th day are on Shabbat, we light the candles for Chanukah BEFORE sunset on Friday, so as not to do any work on Shabbat (flames cannot be kindled once the SHabbat candles are lit.)
We light a "shamos" candle every night. That is the candle with which we light a candle for each new night. On Dec 1st, we light 1 candle, Dec 2nd 2 candles,& so forth -- with the "shamos" candle, that's a total of 3 on Dec 3rd, & so on. We put the channukiah/menorah/candelabra in the window if possible, so that all may be bathed with its light. We bless the candles & then sing a hymn. "Rock of Ages, let our song, praise Thy saving power, Thou admist the raging foe/Wast our sheltering tower. Furious they assailed us, but Thy love availed us. And Thy word broke their sword/when our own streength failed us." We also sing, "Who can retell the things that befell us? Who can count them? In every age a hero or sage came to our aid ...."
The custom is for gifts to be given to the children nightly. While these are supposed to be simply Chanukah gelt (generally chocolate wrapped in gold foil shaped like a coin, & a draidel which is a spinnign top -- in the US, this has been corrupted as a Christmas challenge, & kids generally get 8 times the opportunity to open gifts of much greater magnitude.
In the year 167 BCE (before the common era, or BC), King Antiochus attempted to force the Jews to become Greeks, forbidding all Jewish worship. PIGS were sacrificed in teh Temple by the ruling Greeks & Syrians. (You knokw how "treif" or unlawful it is for Jews to eat pork, & how much the Temple was desecrated by this action on the part of Antiochus.)
Then the Greeks went too faRz. They tried to impose pig-worshipl on villagers. This enraged a strong man named Mattahias, a Priest. He & his 5 sons became some of the 1st guerrila warriors in the world. His son Judah the Maccabee took on the struggle upon his father's passing.
Judah was able to reclaim the desecrated TEmple, but how to make the correct sacrifices of clean animals? Oil was necessary, but Judah & his band could only find enough for one night. They could not increasse their supply for more than anotehr week, but the A-mighty made the oil last for 8 full days. This history is one of many, many in Hebrew Scriptures, the Apocrypa (where these 2 books of Maccabees are contained) & t he Christian Scriptures -- where the L-rd provides for a multitude out of a small amount in human eyes.
The time when the Jews prevailed was very short. Soon after the Temple was reclaimed, the Syrians returned to power (at Judah's death). Many martyrs followed. For example, Hannah & her 7 sons, who were tortured & killed, from the eldest son on down to the youngest & Hannh herself, for refusal to eat pork. These martyrs were heros & role models to Jews during the Spanish Inquisition & other times of persecution.
If you have any specific questions, post them & I'll get back to you soon. Yours in Him, Deborah & Heart
Officially Recognized Stretchpert in Government & Charity Assistance
Proud guardian of Heart, a black female Miniature Poodle, a Psychiatric Service Dog
Enter His gates with thanksgiving, His courts with praise; give thanks to Him, bless His Name. (Psalm 100)
Yours in thrift, Deborah