When is Chanukah 2011?
When Does Chanukah Begin in 2011?
Chanukah (חֲנֻכָּה/Hanukkah/Channukah) does not follow the Gregorian calendar, so it occurs at a slightly different time each year. Sometimes around Christmas, sometimes closer to Thanksgiving.
Chanukah begins on the 25th day of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar. In 2011, this means that Chanukah begins at sundown on December 20, and ends at sundown on December 28.
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The giving of gelt (money, in the form of a few symbolic coins) goes back to 17th Century Poland, Chanukah is not traditionally a gift-giving holiday. That aspect was brought in to compete with Christmas in the hearts and minds of American children. Hanukkah is sometimes called "the Jewish Christmas", though the similarities are in calendar-proximity alone.
What is Chanukah About?
Hanukkah/Chanukah commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem after its desecration by the armies of Syrian King Antiochus IV, which was defeated by Judaic armies led by Judah Maccabee (his name meant "The Hammer", which gives you an idea of how open he was to compromise), but the modern version is about family, and the celebration of being together.
You may also want to check Adam Sandler's Hanukkah Song.