Hanukkah 2020

Hanukkah 2020: when does it start, how long does it last and when does it finish?

Hanukkah, which is sometimes called the Jewish Festival of Light, celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple and will begin later this week.

Hanukkah 2020: when does it start, how long does it last and when does it finish?

Hanukkah, which is sometimes referred to as the 'Festival of Light', is an annual Jewish festival which celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple, on Temple Mount in Jerusalem in the 160s BC. The word Hanukkah means dedication in Hebrew and the festivals lasts for eight days and eight nights. It is a time which celebrates the triumph of light over darkness and of spirituality over materiality.

Does Hanukkah always fall on the same date every year?

As the Hebrew calendar is a lunisolar calendar (based on the lunar cycle), the dates of Jewish holidays change every year. That means that some years, Hanukkah can be celebrated as early as the beginning of November to late December. Traditionally, it starts on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev - the third month of the civil year and the ninth month of the ecclesiastical year in the Hebrew calendar.

So this year, it falls a little earlier than last year - Hanukkah 2020 begins at sundown (nightfall) on the evening of Thursday 10 December wherever you might be in the world. This is when the first candle on an eight-branched candelabra or menorah, called a chanukiah – candles are lit every night from the flame of the shamash the helper candle in the central column – each lit candle represents the miracle of oil, according to the legend found in the Talmud. Candles must be placed into the chanukiah starting from right to left, but the candles are then lit in order the opposite way, from left to right so that the newest candle is lit first. Hanukkah prayers are recited as each one is lit.

Hanukkah activities

Other activities and traditions which are enjoyed during the eight days of Hanukkah include games such as Dreidel and giving gifts to family members. Hanukkah is also a time to enjoy food – in particular shallow-fried potato cakes called latkes, cheese, pretzels, pancakes or Loukoumades – deep-fried doughnut balls coated in honey. The celebrations continue for eight days and nights until Hanukkah comes to an end at nightfall on the eighth day of the festival, Zot Hanukkah. This year, Hanukkah ends on Friday 18 December. Hanukkah Sameach!