Chanukah celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple of Jerusalem during the second century B.C.
A group of Jewish rebels, known as the Maccabees triumphed against their foreign oppressors who had defiled the temple by erecting an altar to Zeus, and sacrificing pigs within its sacred walls.
In order to rededicate the temple, the seven-lamped menorah that always burned within the temple at all times had to be lit. There was only enough oil to last for one day.
Miraculously, the oil burned for eight days, leaving time to find a fresh supply of oil.
The rededication of the temple became also a battle for freedom of religion and national independence and resulted in the establishment of the Hasmonean kingdom, named after the dynasty which led the revolt.
Today Chanukah is one of the most joyous holidays in Jewish culture, celebrated by religious and secular people alike, commemorating the triumph of light over darkness and expressing hope for a better future.
“Many religious holidays across the world are celebrated at home. I believe that what makes Chanukah so special is that it moves beyond the private space, sharing the light with everyone,” said former European Commissioner Carlos Moedas, at an event in Berlaymont in 2018. Each evening a light is added. “The EU shares the same values that are symbolised by the Chanukah lights,” he said.
EuroChanukah has become a tradition in the Commission and an expression of the diversity in the EU. This year, Vice-President Margaritis Schinas, Commissioner for Promoting our European Way of Life, attended the lighting of the third Chanukah candle at a ceremony in Berlaymont.
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, and Philippe Close, Mayor of the City of Brussels, will light the fifth candle of Chanukah on Thursday at 18:00, in a live outdoor ceremony on Rond Point Schuman in Brussels.