Hanukkah 2020: All You Need to Know, Background, Festivities, Gifts, and more!

The holiday season is here! We at Buchan's are working around the clock to fulfill all your holiday needs! In today's blog, we will be talking about Hanukkah, and how are we preparing for Hanukkah 2020.

About Hanukkah

Hanukkah 2020 Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights is observed for 8 nights and 8 days commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem during the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire. Beginning on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, this usually falls at any time between late November and late December of the Gregorian calendar. Hanukkah is observed by lighting a menorah. The menorah has 9 candles, with one branch rising above the others, this candle is called the shamash. Each night, you light one additional candle with the shamash. Other Hanukkah festivities include playing dreidel, eating oil-based foods like latkes, and also eating dairy.

The Spelling of Hanukkah

A common question about Hanukkah is "Why are there different spellings of Hanukkah?" Hanukkah can be spelled as Chanukah, Hanukah, Hannukah, and more. With so many different ways to spell this name, all of these different spellings are applicable (there are actually about 14 different spelling variations of Hanukkah!) and are a matter of preference. The word Hanukkah comes from the Hebrew language, which means the word has to be transliterated to English (Converted from one alphabet to another). This allows for many different variations due to some sounds not existing in the English alphabet, leading to accommodations for the consonants. As a result, both Chanukah and Hanukah are perfectly viable ways to call the Festival of Lights!

When is Hanukkah 2020?

Hanukkah 2020 will begin Thursday, December 10 at sundown and will end Friday, December 18th at sundown. Because the Hebrew calendar is based on the lunar cycle, every day begins at nightfall.

Why is Hanukkah 8 days long?

According to the Talmud, one of Judaism's central texts, Judah Maccabee and other Jews who took part in the rededication noticed that although there was only enough olive oil to keep the menorah's candles burning for a single day, the menorah's candles burned for eight nights, giving them time to find a fresh supply (Hence the tradition of eating oily foods as well!). This marvel inspired the creation of a yearly eight-day festival celebrating this event.

How do you celebrate Hanukkah?

Celebration of Hanukkah involves lighting the menorah, eating oily foods, playing dreidel, and giving gifts! While giving gifts is a relatively new idea, it is an awesome way to enjoy the festivities in the cold month of December!


Dreidel Playing dreidel is a fun way to celebrate Hanukah! Each player begins with an equal amount of game pieces. The game pieces can be anything you want!
  • To start the game, every player puts one piece into the center pot, each player must also put a piece into the pot if it is empty or only has one piece in it.
  • Each player spins the dreidel once during their turn, depending on which side is face-up when the dreidel stops spinning, the player will give or take a piece from the pot.
    • נ (nun) is face-up, the player does nothing
    • ג (gimel) is face-up, the player receives everything in the whole pot
    • ה (hei) is face-up, the player gets half of the pieces in the pot. If there's an odd amount of pieces in the pot, round up to the nearest whole number. (I.E. Take 5 from a pot of 9)
    • ש (shin) or פ (pe) is face-up, the player adds one of their game pieces to the pot. In some versions of dreidel, Shin results in adding three game pieces to the pot.
  • If the player is out of pieces, they are out or may ask for a loan.
And that's how you play dreidel!

Lighting the Menorah

The lighting of each candle on the menorah happens just after dark during each night of Hanukkah. On Friday's, the lighting is done just before dark to avoid lighting on Shabbat. The menorah is symbolized to spread light to others and is traditionally placed on a window or a table near a door. The raised candle or Shamash is used to light other candles, light it first, and use it to light the other candles. Recite the Hanukkah blessing after the Shamash is lit, but before you light other candles. You place the candles from the right to left but light the newest candles first. As a result, your hand will never cross over, or cast a shadow on the lights. Hanukkah Menorah

Hanukkah Gift Ideas

Traditionally, Hanukkah gifts weren't a part of Hanukkah; however, many parents have decided to include gift-giving as a part of their Hanukkah festivities! Here are a few different gift ideas that don't break the bank, but will still bring joy to all!
  • Judaica: Gifting Judaica is an amazing way for your children to learn about the traditions that are followed.
  • Puzzles & Games: Puzzles & Games are an awesome way for the family to spend time together during these festive times!
  • Handmade Gifts: DIY Gifts are awesome ways to make personalized gifts for everyone in the family!
  • Send a card to somebody appreciate: The holidays are meant for us to take time to relax and be thankful for what we have. Sending a card to somebody to show them you care, is an amazing way to spread some of that holiday love!
  Hope you enjoyed reading this blog post about Hanukkah! For a wide variety of Judaica, holiday gifts, Hanukkah cards, and more, shop online or in-store at Buchan's Stationery in Vancouver, Canada. We wish all of you a happy Hanukkah 2020!