kids on hanukkah
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Hanukkah Is Really Early This Year, So Plan Ahead

Get ready, because the Festival Of Lights is coming soon.

Once the school year starts, every week seems to fly by. First it’s back to school events and a new routine, then it’s the buzz of Halloween, followed by Thanksgiving and the winter holidays. It’s a lot to keep track of, and even the most organized person may need a little help keeping it all straight. So if you’re wondering when Hanukkah 2021 is, you’ve come to the right place. And spoiler alert: the eight nights of Hanukkah fall a little early this year (though you still have plenty of time to prepare).

When does Hanukkah start in 2021?

The dates of Hanukkah change each year, but generally the holiday falls somewhere between late November and late December. On the Jewish calendar Hanukkah always falls on the 25h of the month known as Kislev, but that date shifts each year on the Gregorian candle.

So when is Hanukkah? In 2021, Hanukkah begins on Sunday, Nov. 28 and goes through Monday, Dec. 6. This means right as the Thanksgiving leftovers are finished (Turkey Day is Nov. 25 this year) it’s time for Hanukkah to start.

The History of Hanukkah

Hanukkah, also known as the Festival Of Lights, is actually not considered as holy as other Jewish holidays include Yom Kippur or Passover. Still, Hanukkah is widely celebrated around the world.

In the second century BCE, there was a Greek ruling power in Jerusalem. The king at the time, Antiochus IV, outlawed the Jewish religion and demanded that Jewish people worship Greek gods and assimilate into Greek culture. A group of Jewish people, known as the Maccabees (led by Judah the Maccabee) rose up in rebellion, effectively forcing the Greek Seleucids out.

According to the Talmud, a book of Jewish law and teachings, when the Maccabees went back to the temple to reclaim it as their own, all but one vial of oil to light the lamps had been broken in the war. The oil should have burned for just one night, and yet, as the story goes, it burned for eight days and nights; it became the symbol for the holiday and a triumph of light over darkness.

Ways to Celebrate Hanukkah

Every family will have their own unique traditions and ways to celebrate Hanukkah; maybe you watch a special Hanukkah movie, wear matching PJS, or try making your own candles. Most traditionally, Hanukkah is celebrated by lighting candles in a menorah, a candelabra with spaces for nine candles (one for each night plus an extra candle with which to light the others).

On each successive night, one more candle is added to the menorah (so for example, on the first night you’ll light one candle plus the helper candle, on the second night two, and so on for each of eight nights). Some families will sing songs or say prayers as they light the candles. Others may exchange gifts on each of the eight nights.

If you do celebrate with gifts, remember that because Hanukkah is on the early side this year and there are supply chain slow-downs, you may want to order your gifts as you as you think of it, so there’s no last minute scramble to find a Squishmallow or a Baby Yoda.