Breaking News
More () »

Hanukkah: A message of good, a celebration of light

Hanukkah, also known as the "Festival of Lights" began at sunset on Sunday and will continue until Monday evening.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Jewish celebration of Hanukkah has officially started. It began Sunday at sundown and will continue until the evening of Monday, Dec. 26.

The first candle of the menorah is lit to mark the start of the festivities.

Hanukkah is known as the festival of lights and eight of the main candles in the menorah signify each day of the holiday.

"We actually light it up, right when it gets dark to indicate that our purpose here is to light up the darkness," said Rabbi Yossi Wilhelm with the Knoxville Jewish Alliance.

He said this is a celebration that highlights the goodness in the world and remembers the righteous against the wicked.

"Hanukkah is a message of good over evil, of freedom over oppression. And, it's a message of light," he said.

The story of Hanukkah took place more than 2,000 years ago when Syrian Greeks started to oppress Jewish practices and a small army of Jews rose up against them. 

"They went and they fought four great battles," Rabbi Wilhelm said. "And eventually, even though they were weaker, even though they were not trained, even though they had very little compared to the Greek army had, it was a miraculous victory." 

The holiday is commonly celebrated by cooking and eating fried foods and playing dreidels. Oil plays a key role throughout the eight days, from lighting the candles to cooking with them. 

The oil used today is meant to signify the small amount that was used for a menorah that burned for more than a day.

"Miraculously, the light the oil continued to burn for eight days until they got new oil. So we have the victory and we have the miracle of the oil," Rabbi Wilhelm said. 

This moment holds a message remembered that a light's flame will continue to shine amidst the darkness.

"A candle loses nothing by sharing its flame. I would say that's one of the most powerful messages of Hanukkah," he said. 

Before You Leave, Check This Out