Q:

What are some traditional ways to wish someone a happy Hanukkah?

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Quick Answer

To wish someone a happy Hanukkah in the traditional Hebrew, you can say, “Hanukkah Sameach!” which translates to "happy Hanukkah". Other variations of this salutation include "Chag sameach!" which means "happy holiday" or "Chag Urim Sameach!” which means "happy lights holiday."

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Full Answer

Although the holiday falls approximately at the same time as Christmas, Hanukkah is actually a minor holiday in the Jewish calendar. Traditional Hanukkah custom dictates celebration with family, the playing of games (typically with a dreidel), and the giving of chocolate coins as small gifts. However, with its proximity to Christmas, modern Hanukkah celebrations have taken on more extensive gift giving customs.

Hanukkah is the Jewish Festival of Lights. It takes place once a year, typically in December, and lasts for eight days. The length of the festival celebrates the miracle of the menorah, as recorded in the Talmud, that burned for eight days even though it only had enough oil to burn for one.

According to the Talmud, Antiochus IV Epiphanes took control of Judea in 175 B.C. and several years later banned the Jewish religion. Mattityahu, a Jewish priest, led a rebellion against Antiochus IV Epiphane with his five sons. When Mattityahu died, his son Judah Maccabee continued to lead the rebellion. In 165 B.C., the rebels overthrew the oppressors to retake the Holy Temple. After restoring the temple, they needed oil for the menorah. Although there was only enough oil to burn for one day, the menorah remained lit for eight days.

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