When Is Hanukkah, or the ‘Festival of Lights,’ in 2023?
Winter is a season of celebrating! With Christmas as the main event for many around the world, you may have assumed that Hanukkah is the Jewish version of Christmas. After all, there are similar traditions between the two, like lighting lights and giving gifts. However, even though Hanukkah is celebrated around the time of Christmas, it has nothing to do with Christmas.
So when is Hanukkah? We know it’s close to Christmas, but the date might escape us. There is a reason for this. It’s not because our memories are going (or at least that’s not the main reason!). It’s because the exact date changes each year, ranging from the end of November to December. And this winter festival doesn’t last for just one day either—it’s a multiple-day festival. We’ll cover when Hanukkah starts and when the celebration ends as well.
If you are thinking of celebrating Hanukkah, also known as the “Festival of Lights,” or giving someone who celebrates the Jewish holiday a gift, you’ll want to know which days to mark on your calendar. Read on to find out when Hanukkah is this year, how long it lasts and what is celebrated each night of Hanukkah.
Related: The Meaning of Hanukkah: The History and Significance of the Festival of Lights
When Is Hanukkah 2023?
This year, Hanukkah begins on Thursday, December 7, 2023, and runs until Friday, December 15, 2023. You can see why it gets confused as a Jewish version of Christmas—the dates are very similar, and even overlap during some years.
How Long Does Hanukkah Last?
Hanukkah lasts for eight days and is based on the rededication of the second temple in Jerusalem, which follows the victory of the Maccabees over their oppressors. At the time of the rededication, Judah Maccabee and some other Jews witnessed what they believed to be a miracle. They only had enough olive oil to keep the menorah’s candles burning for a single day. However, the flames continued to flicker for eight straight days. Because of this amazing event, the Jews decided to proclaim a yearly eight-day festival.
Related: Celebrate the Festival of Lights With the 25 Catchiest Hanukkah Songs
Is Hanukkah on the Same Date Every Year?
It is and it isn’t. Hanukkah does fall on the same exact date according to the lunar Hebrew calendar. The date always starts on the 25th day of Kislev. Kislev is the ninth month of the Hebrew Calendar. It ends on the second day of the tenth month, Tevet. The Hebrew calendar is based on the moon’s cycles, which differs from our calendar.
Our calendar is based on the Gregorian, or solar calendar, which means that it is based on the Earth’s rotation around the sun. Since the Hebrew and Gregorian calendars have different cycles from each other, the date on the Hebrew calendar will coincide with a different date on the Gregorian calendar.
Since the Hebrew calendar includes about twelve and a half lunar months, they incorporate a leap month every few years to keep the calendar consistent with the seasons. So, Hanukkah will always start on the 25th day of Kislev which can fall on any date between late November and December on the Gregorian calendar.
Related: 75 Festive Hanukkah Greetings and Happy Wishes for a More Meaningful Festival of Lights
What Happens on Each Night of Hanukkah?
Throughout the eight days of Hanukkah, there are a variety of celebrations with a mix of prayers, games (like dreidel), gifts, food (like latkes) and songs. The main event, however, is the lighting of the menorah. On each of the eight nights of Hanukkah, one new light will be lit on the menorah by the Shamash (the “helper candle” which is in the center of the menorah). On the last night, all of the candles are lit, which symbolizes the eight days that the flame lasted in the Holy Temple.
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