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First Day of Hanukkah in Canada

Many Jewish communities in Canada observe the first day of Hanukkah, which marks the start of Hanukkah, also known as Chanukah or Festival of Lights. Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish observance that remembers the Jewish people's struggle for religious freedom.

Is First Day of Hanukkah a Public Holiday?

First Day of Hanukkah is not a public holiday. Businesses have normal opening hours.

Chanukah gift
Hanukkah is a time for gift-giving.
©iStockphoto.com/MarkCoffeyPhoto

What Do People Do?

Jewish communities in Canada celebrate the first day of Hanukkah on the 25th day of the month of Kislev in the Jewish calendar. The Hanukkah period lasts for 8 days and is celebrated from the 25th day of Kislev to the second day of Tevet. The first night of Hanukkah (or Chanukah) starts with special blessings at sunset the day before the 25th of Kislev. Many Jewish people light the hanukiah (or chanukkiyah), which is a type of candelabrum.

Hanukkah is a time for gift-giving so some people give gift baskets to others. Some organizations coordinate events, such as a Hanukkah Party, for children. These events often include singing, drama, and entertaining activities involving the dreidel, which is a toy used for games. Many Jewish Canadians prepare and eat meals fried in olive oil, such as potato cakes, and different fried breads. It is has also been tradition for the Canadian prime minister to join in Jewish Canadians in lighting a candle to celebrate Hanukkah.

Public Life

The first day of Hanukkah is not a nationwide public holiday in Canada. Some Jewish schools have their school vacation fall around the same time of Hanukkah.

Background

Hanukkah commemorates the Jewish people’s successful rebellion against the Syrians in the Maccabean War in 162 BCE. A ritual cleansing and re-dedication of the Temple occurred after the Jewish people’s victory. It is believed that there was only enough consecrated oil to keep the lamp burning for one day but the small bottle of oil miraculously lasted for eight days. Hanukkah, also known as Hanukkah, is referred as the Feast of Lights or Festival of Lights for this reason.

Moreover, the survival of Judaism over the many years is also celebrated during this period. The last day of Hanukkah, which marks the end of Hanukkah, falls on the eighth day of this period.

Symbols

The dreidel is a toy that is popular during the Hanukkah celebrations. It is a spinning top with a different Hebrew letter inscribed in each of its four sides – the four letters form an acronym meaning “a great miracle happened here”. The hanukiah (or chanukkiyah) is a type of candelabrum that holds eight candles to commemorate the eight days that the oil burned and a ninth candle that sits apart, known as the shamash, or servant candle that lights the others. One candle is lit on the first night, another on the second, and so forth until all candles are lit on the last night.

About First Day of Hanukkah in other countries

Read more about First Day of Hanukkah.

First Day of Hanukkah Observances

Note: Jewish holidays begin at sundown the day before the date specified for the holiday.

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2010ThuDec 2First Day of HanukkahJewish holiday 
2011WedDec 21First Day of HanukkahJewish holiday 
2012SunDec 9First Day of HanukkahJewish holiday 
2013ThuNov 28First Day of HanukkahJewish holiday 
2014WedDec 17First Day of HanukkahJewish holiday 
2015MonDec 7First Day of HanukkahJewish holiday 
2016SunDec 25First Day of HanukkahJewish holiday 
2017WedDec 13First Day of HanukkahJewish holiday 
2018MonDec 3First Day of HanukkahJewish holiday 
2019MonDec 23First Day of HanukkahJewish holiday 
2020FriDec 11First Day of HanukkahJewish holiday 

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