Every year in the heart of winter, Jewish communities all over the world gather to celebrate Hanukkah, an eight-day holiday also known as the Festival of Lights. The holiday commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem after the Maccabees won a military victory over the Syrian Greek Army. The Jewish fighters found enough oil to keep the temple’s holy lamp lit. The menorah stayed lit for eight days, which was considered a miracle.
For eight nights, Jewish families light an additional candle on a multibranched candelabra, or menorah.
The holiday is celebrated, not only by lighting menorahs, but also with spinning dreidels, eating potato latkes, and gathering with friends and family. Here’s an inside look at the vibrant Hanukkah happenings this season in the DMV.
December 7, 3 p.m.
Among the largest Hanukkah celebrations held in the United States, the national menorah lighting attracts more than 5,000 attendees to the grounds of the White House Ellipse every year. Special guests include President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, as well as appearances from members of Congress, ambassadors, and dignitaries. While there’s no registration fee for the celebration, organizers recommend RSVPing for the event. 1776 Ellipse Rd. NW, Washington, DC, free, registration recommended
December 7, 5 p.m.
Held in partnership with Gesher Jewish Day School, the Village at Leesburg will host its annual candle lighting celebration on the first night of Hanukkah. Holiday games and crafts will be available, and food will be served, including potato latkes and sufganiyot (fried Hanukkah jelly doughnuts). Be sure to arrive before sunset for the best experience. 1602 Village Market Blvd. SE, Leesburg, free
December 7, 6 p.m.
Gather in Old Town Alexandria outside the Lyceum as organizers light a 6-foot tall menorah. Children will receive a light stick to use throughout the event. Enjoy traditional Hanukkah music while sampling some potato latkes with apple sauce and sour cream. There will be hot cocoa, doughnuts, and chocolate gelt for purchase, and dreidel-spinning fun for the whole family. 201 S. Washington St., Alexandria, free, registration required
December 10, 4:45 p.m.
This Night of Light celebration will feature a Hanukkah gelt drop from a fire truck, hot latkes, holiday drinks, a raffle, and the grand menorah lighting. Shop the Maccabee Marketplace for holiday-themed crafts and activities. 14500 Rollins Ford Rd., Nokesville, free
December 11, 5:30 p.m.
Held at National Landing’s Metropolitan Park, get ready to unite for light. Organizers will light a giant 9-foot menorah, and traditional holiday foods will be offered. Space for this event is limited, so don’t wait to get your free tickets. 1330 S. Fair St., Arlington, free, registration required
December 14, 5:30 p.m.
Gather at the Mosaic District for the second to last night of Hanukkah, held in partnership with Pozez Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia. Activities, such as a holiday singalong, candle lighting, and dreidel spinning kick off at sunset with menorah lighting to follow. 2910 District Ave., Fairfax, free
Feature image by biotin/stock.adobe.com
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