Candles will be lit, potato pancakes and donuts will be consumed, and draidls* will be spun beginning on Friday night December 11, 2009. The very happy and festive holiday of Chanukah, also spelled Hanukkah, and many other ways, developed as an eight-day period to honor the miracle of the weak winning over the mighty.
The universal theme of the weak overcoming the mighty can be found in every religious and cultural tradition. We have David winning over Goliath, the American colonists winning over England, and countless other stories of the underdog overcoming adversity and becoming successful.
Check out the story of Chanukah and the miracle of a little oil burning for eight days. With Chanukah falling so closely to Christmas and Kwanzaa, it is easy to confuse customs such as gift giving, lighting of candles, and having family celebration dinners. Knowing the history of this joyous holiday helps us understand its meaning.
*draidl: a spinning four-sided top with four letters signifying quantities in order to play a game to win money, candy, or whatever prizes the hosts arrange