NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Sundown on December 18th marks the first day of Hanukkah around the world.

Hanukkah, or Chanukah is also known as the Festival of Lights, Feast of Dedication or Feast of the Maccabees.

It’s a Jewish festival with many traditions that takes place for eight nights and days.

The festival will end sundown on Monday, December 26th.

Lighting the Menorah

Each night families light a new candle on a nine-branched candelabra which represents the miracle from the Hanukkah story. The center candle, or the shamash, is used to light the other candles. According to Jewish tradition, this represents the Maccabees’ victory over the Greeks and the rededication of the Jewish Temple to God – which was marked by the lighting of the Temple’s menorah. The menorah burned for eight days.

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Liturgy and prayers

The festival is also commemorated with daily worship either at home or at a church, through readings, prayers, and singing.

Playing the dreidel

The dreidel is a spinning top that has four sides with Hebrew letters. Each player contributes something to the “pot.” Depending on what letter the dreidel falls on, a player would take nothing, take everything, take half or put more in.

Eating fried foods

Oil was traditionally the source of light at Hanukkah. That’s now been replaced with fried food like potato latkes and jelly donuts, which are two treats families eat during the festivities as a nod to the miracle.

Gift giving

It’s common among families to exchange gifts. Primarily, children get Hanukkah gelt. Gelt is usually in the form of chocolate coins, but sometimes real coins are given. Also, gelt is usually used as the “pot” when playing dreidel.

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For the 20th year, the Chabad of Nashville will invite the public for the lighting of the courthouse menorah on Public Square in front of the State Capitol. Nashville’s Mayor John Cooper will be lighting the 12 ft. menorah on the second day of Hanukkah. The event is free and open to the public. It takes place at 4:30 p.m.

The Chabad of Nashville will be hosting a free Hanukkah party Dec. 18. starting at 5 p.m. Registration is required.

NowGen Nashville will host its Hanukkah celebration from 4 to 7 p.m. Dec. 18th at the Game Terminal. It’s also free to attend.

Do you know of a public Hanukkah celebration happening in Middle Tennessee? Email us at pix@wkrn.com.