Spanning eight days and nights, the joyous yearly festival of Hanukkah commemorates the successful revolt of the Jews, led by Judah Maccabee, against the oppressive government of Antiochus IV and the Seleucid Empire in 165 B.C. Tradition relates how a miracle took place during the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem: The remaining supply of sacramental oil, thought to be enough for only one day, burned for eight days.
During Hanukkah, families gather at night to light candles on a special candleholder called a menorah. Other Hanukkah traditions include singing, the exchange of gifts, and the spinning of the dreidel, a four-sided top. Children typically use chocolate coins to make bets on the outcome of each spin of the dreidel.
The stamp above, first issued in 2011 and still available for purchase, is the fourth stamp design issued by the U.S. Postal Service in celebration of Hanukkah. USPS issued its first Hanukkah stamp, a stylized illustration of a menorah, in 1996. A design featuring an ornate dreidel followed in 2004, and a photograph of a menorah with nine lit candles was first released in 2009.
The eight days and nights of Hanukkah begin on the 25th of Kislev in the Hebrew calendar, a date that falls in late November or December. This year, Hanukkah begins today, December 8! And we are celebrating with a little contest. All you have to do to enter is answer the following question correctly:
“Hanukkah” is the Hebrew word for what?
Send your answers to us at uspsstamps [at] gmail [dot] com. Three grand-prize winners will be selected at random from those with the correct answer to receive a complete set of four collectible ceremony programs, one for each of the Hanukkah stamps issued by the U.S. Postal Service. Five other people will receive one randomly selected Hanukkah ceremony program. The deadline for entries is midnight, Sunday, December 16. All winners will be notified by email.