Local rabbi explains why Hanukkah is early this year

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights, happens at a different time each year.

The holiday celebrates the Maccabees, a Jewish army, defeating the larger Syrian army more than 2,000 years ago after the Greeks forced their culture on the Jewish people.

To rededicate the temple to God, the Jewish people needed to light a menorah with oil, but the Jewish temple was destroyed, with no traces of oil to be found anywhere.

Menorah lit for the fifth night of Hanukkah in Northwoods Mall.

Finding one single jar of oil left, it was only meant to last a day but ended up lasting eight.

“The message of Hanukkah really is that every night we add another candle. It’s not good enough the deed that we did yesterday, we have to increase a good deed today, until we can illuminate the entire world with goodness and kindness,” said Rabbi Eli Langsam, executive director of the Chabad Jewish Center of Peoria and Bradley University.

Hanukkah seems to have come early in 2021, but that is because Jewish holidays follow the Hebrew calendar, instead of the secular calendar.

The holiday always falls on the 25th day of the month of “Kislev,” a month on the Hebrew calendar. In 2022, the Hebrew calendar will be a leap year, so Hanukkah will be celebrated in late December.

People might see the holiday spelled differently across the nation, but as long as the holiday has eight letters in its name to represent the eight days of the holiday, the spelling is subjective.

Customary practices on the holiday include spinning a dreidel, or a top, eating potato pancakes, known as latkes, jelly donuts, called sufganiyot, and celebrating with family to commemorate the war won by the Jewish people years ago.

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