For Jews, the end of the year also brings the Christmas-like atmosphere into their houses. Although it’s not the most important holiday in terms of religion, Chanukah is a traditionally much-loved festival full of warm greetings, exchange of gifts, celebratory foods and merry spirit hovering in the air. However, unlike Christmas, it lasts a bit longer – actually, for the whole eight days.
Three of them have a special meaning, including Zot Chanukah day. This one, which you’re going to read about for the next 5 minutes, is the last day of the holiday crowning all the festivities. When is Last Day of Chanukah in 2017 and why does it stand out? Scroll down the page!
In case you haven’t yet heard of Chanukah’s story, underlying the holiday, well, we have to set it right. The events date back to the distant period of time before the birth of Christ. The historic sources claim that in 170 BC the Holy Land, forced to live under the Seleucids rule, encountered a cruel oppression of a newly designated ruler. Although theretofore the Jews had to put up with the invaders in return for the comparatively quiet and peace on their lands, for that time they’d experienced a fierce brutality of the Syrian governor.
Intolerant to any religious cults except that of the Greek, he was furiously engaged in the forcible spread of his people’s belief and total eradication of Judaism. The spiritual practices, as well as the performance of Judaic duties, were forbidden by law while the disobedience immediately led to the execution. The schools were closed; places for praying stood in ruins but the major strike fell on the Jews’ sacred Second Temple. It was pillaged and desecrated: right in the middle of the revered building stood the altar of the head of the Greek pantheon on which the pigs were stuck as offerings.
An unshakeable faith of the Jews and their devotion to God strengthened the resistance to the aggressors. The rebels united under the guidance of the leaders of the uprising called the Maccabees. In the course of three years, they’d fought against the government army. Despite the numerical superiority and the better weapons of the latter, in 167 BC the Jews overpowered the enemy and cleared the area of the Seleucid’s presence.
Nonetheless, the primary concern was the cleansing of the temple. According to their scriptures, it was to be done through the continuous light shedding from the menorah. The ritually pure olive oil was necessary for this practice, however, there was only one little bottle left untouched by the ungodly warriors. Although it was barely sufficient to keep the thing burning for a day, the Jews started the ritual and, amazingly, the menorah didn’t go out for the full eight days. Unable to explain this other than as a miracle from the heavens, they created the tradition of honoring these events with an 8-days long festivity every year.
After doing some math, we’d see that the question when is Last Day of Chanukah 2017 is being answered for the 2184th time!
What does Last Day of Chanukah mean? First, in terms of linguistics, it’s called the Zot Chanukah in Hebrew which is literally translated as “this is Chanukah”. These words are written in the beginning of the extract from the Torah that is required to be recited on this day.
Second, regarding the spiritual meaning, the Jews perceive it as a period of the miracle’s apogee. This triumph of the holy light, happening on the eighth day of Chanukah, marks all the previous days taking in their greatest features. Through the calm flame issued from the chanukiyah – an analog of the menorah in the everyday life of the Jews – the God’s grace is granted to the believers. The light seeks to penetrate into their hearts, inflame them with the passion of faith and keep it burning till no shade is left tormenting their soul and sowing the doubt.
What is the date of Last Day of Chanukah 2017? The Zot Chanukah takes place on the 2nd day of the Hebrew’s Tevet month. As it follows the lunar calendar, it corresponds to December 20 of the Gregorian style.
Chanukah, which in English means “to rededicate”, is a respected holiday among the Jews, though is not a canonic one. It’s rather to be the most family festival since it unites the relatives together for the celebratory dinners, joint prayers and, of course, for the sacred ritual of lighting up the candles on the chanukiah. Due to the unsettled dates in the world’s widespread calendar, it occurs annually somewhen between November and December. It even can coincide with Christmas and New Year but the Jews observe only their own traditions.
The so-called symbols of festivity are the distinctive candelabrum holding nine candles (one of them helps light the others), the spinning toy called dreidel and traditional food prepared in oil – latkes which are the pancakes made of potato, and sufganiyah – a fried doughnut filled with jam. While we already know the meaning of the candle holder, the dreidel and national dishes are rooted in the ancient history, too.
The Jewish children in spite of the religion ban attended the secretly organized studying groups. If the government guards suddenly broke into the shelter, they grabbed the whirligigs out of their pockets and pretended to play the innocent game. Nowadays, the sides of the thing are bedecked with four letters from the Hebrew alphabet which stand for the phrase saying “a great miracle happened there”. As for eating, it came from the custom of honoring the olive oil.
How the folks celebrate Last Day of Chanukah? Besides the common festivities such as the games, presenting gifts and the family pastime, the Zot Chanukah is notable for the special order of the evening ceremony.
Before the night falls, people gather in the room around the chanukiyah placed near the window and chant two blessings. Then they light up the candlestick, one after the other, making all of the candles finally flare together. Performing this solemn rite, the religious persons read the due fragment from the Talmud and sing the hymn. As the candles and the wicks are no longer to be used, on the Zot Chanukah they keep burning until blow out completely.
Interestingly, no matter what day Last Day of Chanukah in 2017 falls on, it’s always a vacation time for the Jewish pupils and students, even in the non-Jewish countries!
Last Day of Chanukah Facts
- According to the various theological schools in Judaism, the final day of the holiday is either lit up with eight candles or just one. It comes from a long-standing argument concerning in what order the sticks should be kindled: adding a new one every evening progressing to eight or starting with the eight and going down to one.
- Last Day of Chanukah is analogous to Shemini Atsereth celebration which is the eighth day of Succoth festival. Both of the holidays bear the same meaning, proclaiming love and devotion to the God and light.
- The Jews are not refrained from working even on the last day of Chanukah. This fact proves the less meaning of the holiday comparing to the other celebrations.
Every Jewish family has it inscribed in the calendar, when is Last Day of Chanukah in 2017, because it shows the deeply revered miracle of Chanukah in all its glory and reveals the power of the true faith.