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Information About Hanukkah in Metro Detroit

The Festival of Lights


Menorah on the First Night of Hanukkah

Menorah on the First Night of Hanukkah

Photo © Laura Sternberg, Licensed to About.com
Updated December 07, 2012

According to SimpletoRemember.com, 94,000 Jews reside in the Metro-Detroit area. Like most holidays, however, not everyone celebrates the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. In fact, the holiday is not a particularly important or religious one in the Jewish faith. Hanukkah's prominence and gift-giving aspects evolved over the years as a result of its proximity to Christmas.

When is Hanukkah in 2012?

The eight days of Hanukkah fall differently each year. According to Chabad.org, the holiday begins at sundown on Sunday, December 9th through Sunday, December 16th in 2012. Note: On the Jewish calendar, a holiday begins at sunset the night before (Saturday, December 8th).

What is it exactly?

According to jewfaq.org, it is a celebration of religious freedom after a period of violent suppression. It seems that about 100 years after Alexander the Great, the Seleucid Greek government began persecuting the Jews in Syria. In fact, the Greeks took over and desecrated many Jewish temples.

Following a successful revolt that resulted in the recapture of a temple, the Jews sought to rededicate it. According to Jewish tradition, the menorah (a candelabra) was to burn throughout each night. Unfortunately, there was only enough oil to last one day. The oil, however, lasted eight days. The Hanukkah celebration commemorates this eight-day miracle.

How is the holiday celebrated?

The holiday is celebrated through the lighting of candles commemorating the original miracle. A menorah (a type of candelabra) is used. The menorah actually has places for nine candles. Eight of the candles represent the eight nights of the miracle. The ninth candle is called a shammus and is a servant candle. It is lighted first and used to light the other candles each night.

On the first night of Hanukkah, the shammus is lit and used to light one candle. Both candles are left in the menorah until they entirely burn down. On the second night, new candles are placed in the menorah: the shammus and two candles representing the second night of Hanukkah. Again the candles are left to burn down entirely. This ritual is repeated through each of the eight nights, resulting in the use of 44 candles.

Where does the gift giving come in?

Like all holidays, the traditions vary by family. Many families only give gifts to the children. Some families give gifts every night, while others give gifts only on the first and last nights.

What events celebrate Hanukkah in the Metro-Detroit area?

One of the biggest events is the Big Menorah Lighting in the "D" on Wednesday, December 12th at Campus Martius. For information about this and other celebrations check out Chanukah Events in Detroit.

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