Why are there Jewish candles all around North London over the christmas period? Is it because Jews celebrate Christmas? Well the answer is no, Jews don’t celebrate Christmas. What you are actually seeing around Hendon, Golders Green and Barnet are actually menorahs. A menorah has nine candles which are lit every night of Hanukkah, but what actually is Hanukkah?

Hanukkah is an eight day festival to celebrate the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire. It is also a festival to commemorate the miracle of oil being able to light the menorah for eight days. 

To celebrate Hanukkah, families use the central candle of the menorah to light the rest; one candle is lit each night of the festival. Most families eat oily food to celebrate the miracle of oil and some give presents every night.

A modern orthodox Ashkenazi Jewish student at Henrietta Barnett School said:

In my family we light the candles every night and sing songs and then we eat donuts and play a game called dreidel.

This year Hanukkah fell on the 22nd to the 30th of December, coinciding with Christmas, making it a festival-packed few days recently. In London, there were events spotted all around different areas of London, from a giant menorah in Trafalgar Square to Islington’s kinetic laser menorah, most boroughs had events on for Hanukkah.

Hanukkah is an important part of the diverse multi-cultural and multi-faith London life and is a significant event in the capital’s calendar, and hopefully will carry on being celebrated so zealously for many years to come.