All About Hanukkah

Contributor: Meghan Vestal. Lesson ID: 12118

What is the most ancient of December holidays? What is the longest holiday celebration? This holiday has its own special toy, lights, and gifts! Take a "spin" with this very special Jewish holiday!


World Cultures

Social Studies
learning style
Kinesthetic, Visual
personality style
Grade Level
Primary (K-2)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!


How many candles are lit at Hanukkah? Why are there that many candles?

In the previous lesson in our December Holidays series, found under Related Lessons in the right-hand sidebar, you learned how Christmas is celebrated in December in the United States.

In this lesson, you will learn about another important December holiday, Hanukkah.

To learn who celebrates Hanukkah and where the holiday came from, watch The Story of Hanukkah from Speakaboos. As you watch the video, discuss the following questions with your teacher or parent. You can pause the video at any time so that you can discuss:

  • What religious group celebrates Hanukkah?
  • Why were the Jewish people told they could no longer practice their religion?
  • What was the problem with the oil lamp they found in the temple?
  • How long did the lamp stay lit?
  • Why do people celebrate Hanukkah for eight days?


You learned that Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days because that is the number of days the lamp remained lit in the temple. The number of days Hanukkah is celebrated is represented on the menorah. If you are thinking the menorah has nine candles, you are not wrong. Only eight of the candles are used to represent the days of Hanukkah. The center candle is called the Shamash. The Shamash does not represent a day of Hanukkah. Rather, it is the candle used to light the other candles.

The dates Hanukkah is celebrated each year change depending on the Jewish calendar (the Jewish calendar is different from the standard calendar), but it is always celebrated for eight days in December.

Each night of Hanukkah, families say a prayer together and light a candle on the menorah. Then, families exchange gifts. Typically, small gifts are given the first seven nights and a larger gift is given on the final night. Families will often share in a large meal on the final night of Hanukkah. Latkes, or pancakes made from potatoes, are a popular Hanukkah treat.

Do you or someone you know celebrate Hanukkah? What Hanukkah traditions do you find most interesting? Share your response with your teacher or parent.

Then, move on to the Got It? section to learn the special way the menorah is lit.

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