From the evening of Dec. 16 to 24, 2014.
Seven-branched menorahs are used in the Temple; nine-branched ones are used during Hanukkah.
The menorah is meant to symbolize divine light illuminating the world, according to United with Israel.
Many centuries ago, when the Seleucids, or Syrian-Greeks, ruled the Holy Land, the tyrannical Antiochus tried to assimilate the Jews that lived there. But some resisted, cast out the Greeks and retook control of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Once there, they had only a single day's supply of olive oil to light the menorah. Somehow, the oil lasted eight days, so early Jewish ancestors instituted the eight-day festival of Hanukkah, in which a menorah's candles would be lit every night.
Fried food is an important part of the holiday, largely due to its connection with oil, according to jewfaq.org. Popular dishes include latkes (potato pancakes), as well as sufganiyot (fried doughnuts).
It's a toy that's used in a gambling game. It is said that Jews played the game to pretend to Antiochus' forces that they were not studying Torah. You can play with a dreidel for prizes such as money or candy. The dreidel has four sides, each of which is marked with a Hebrew letter: Nun, Gimel, Hei and Shin, which stand for the phrase, "Nes Gadol Hayah Sham" ("A Great Miracle Happened Here"). In this case, it refers to the miracle of the oil lasting in the temple.
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