The first candle of the menorah is lit at nightfall of December 16th and each night until December 24th.
Hanukkah is the Jewish Feast of Lights or Feast of Dedication.The Hebrew word Hanukkah means dedication. Hanukkah is also written Hannuka or Chanukah. The holiday begins on the eve of the 25th day of the Hebrew Month of Kislev and lasts eight days. Hanukkah usually falls in the month of December, but occasionally can start in November.
The books of the Maccabees tell the story of Hanukkah which occurred in 165 B.C. After three years of struggle, the Jews in Judea defeated the Syrian tyrant Antiochus. The Jewish people held festivities in the Temple of Jerusalem, and rededicated it to God. After removing all Syrian idols from the Temple, the Jews found only one small cruse of oil which to light their holy lamps. Miraculously, the cruse provided oil for eight days. Judas Maccabaeus, the Jewish leader, then proclaimed a festival to be observed by Jews.
During Hanukkah, gifts are exchanged and contributions are made to the poor. Each evening, one additional candle is lit on the Hanukkah menorah (candelabra). By the last evening, eight lighted candles stand together.