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Hanukkah is an interesting holiday with traditions that go back to the ancient times. It commemorates rededication of the Holy Temple located in Jerusalem in the period of Maccabean Revolt that happened in the II century BC. It is celebrated for eight days and nights from the 25th day of Kislev in accordance with Hebrew calendar that can fall on any time between late November and late December.
One of the most interesting traditions is lighting of candles in a special candelabrum with nine branches, called Hanukiah or Menorah. Every day one candle is lighted, so as on the last day all eight candles are shining. The ninth branch of Menorah is located in the center, and is either higher or lower than the rest of the row. It is conditioned by the fact that it is not used in the holiday itself – it can be used in everyday life, unlike the other branches.
There are also other rituals involved in the holiday celebrating. It is not forbidden to work within the 8 days of the holiday, but usually people go home from work earlier to be there for lights kindling. Although there are no religious reasons to close schools for the holiday, in Israel they are closed since the second day and till the end of Hanukkah. People usually exchange gifts each day of the holiday.
After kindling the lights of Menorah, it is customary to sing Ma’oz Tzur, which is a hymn of the holiday. People usually sing other songs every day of the holiday. It is also a custom to eat foods fried in olive oil, such as potato pancakes and doughnuts.