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Chanukah/Hanukkah (first day) in the United States

Many Jewish communities in the United States 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 Chanukah a Public Holiday?

Chanukah is not a public holiday. Businesses have normal opening hours.

Hanukkah gifts wrapped and ready to be given.

©iStockphoto.com/MarkCoffeyPhoto

Celebrate Hanukkah

Jewish communities in the United States celebrate the first day of Hanukkah on the 25th day of the month of Kislev in the Jewish calendar. The Hanukkah period lasts for eight 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 menorah, also known as the hanukiah (or chanukkiyah), which is a type of candelabrum.

Many Americans of Jewish faith also eat food fried in olive oil, such as potato cakes, and different fried breads. Hanukkah dishes include sufganiot (Hanukkah donuts), potato latkes (pancakes), mandelbrot (this can be sliced like a hard bread), and rugelach (pastry that with different fillings). The first day of Hanukkah is the start of a celebratory period in which a four-sided toy called dreidel is used for games. The first night of Hanukkah is also a night when people sing traditional songs to celebrate Hanukkah. Gift-giving is also popular at this time of the year.

Public Life

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

About Hanukkah

Hanukkah commemorates the Jewish people’s successful rebellion against the Greeks 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 Chanukah, 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.

About Chanukah/Hanukkah (first day) in other countries

Read more about Chanukah/Hanukkah (first day).

Chanukah/Hanukkah (first day) Observances

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

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2010ThuDec 2Chanukah/Hanukkah (first day)Jewish holiday 
2011WedDec 21Chanukah/Hanukkah (first day)Jewish holiday 
2012SunDec 9Chanukah/Hanukkah (first day)Jewish holiday 
2013ThuNov 28Chanukah/Hanukkah (first day)Jewish holiday 
2014WedDec 17Chanukah/Hanukkah (first day)Jewish holiday 
2015MonDec 7Chanukah/Hanukkah (first day)Jewish holiday 
2016SunDec 25Chanukah/Hanukkah (first day)Jewish holiday 
2017WedDec 13Chanukah/Hanukkah (first day)Jewish holiday 
2018MonDec 3Chanukah/Hanukkah (first day)Jewish holiday 
2019MonDec 23Chanukah/Hanukkah (first day)Jewish holiday 
2020FriDec 11Chanukah/Hanukkah (first day)Jewish holiday 

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