Families come together each year to celebrate Hanukkah, the joyous Jewish holiday called the Festival of Lights.
The story of Hanukkah—”dedication” in Hebrew—tells of reclaiming the Temple in Jerusalem, which a conquering army had desecrated. Worshippers prepared to rededicate the holy space but discovered that only one small jar of consecrated oil remained, enough to last one day. So rather than waiting for more oil to arrive, they lit the Temple menorah, which burned for eight days. This miracle of the oil is celebrated during Hanukkah with the ceremonial lighting of the hanukiah, the nine-branched menorah used during the holiday.
The stamp art’s colorful digital illustration shows the lighting of the hanukiah on the last evening of Hanukkah. Artist Jing Jing Tsong chose her colors intentionally to evoke Hanukkah traditions, as seen through children’s eyes. The darker blue colors in the background symbolize winter, while the brightly colored flaming candles reflect the spirit and warmth of sharing the holiday traditions.
Hanukkah is a family-centered celebration, particularly the lighting of the hanukiah. The family gathers to recite blessings each night, one before the lighting and one as the candles are lit; a third blessing, known as the Shehecheyanu, is recited or sung only on the first night of the festival as it is on other special family occasions. The candle for the first night is put on the far right side of the hanukiah. On each subsequent night, an additional candle is placed to the immediate left of the previous night’s candle—right to left, the direction in which Hebrew is read. The candles are then lit from left to right, so the lighting begins with the newest candle. Some families take this opportunity to explain their heritage and the symbolism behind the ritual.
After lighting the candles, families might play games, host a sing-along of favorite Hanukkah tunes, or prepare and eat fried foods traditionally consumed during the holiday.
In 2021, Hanukkah began on the evening of November 28.
Art director Ethel Kessler designed the stamp with original art by Tsong.
The Hanukkah stamp is being issued as a Forever stamp. This Forever stamp is always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail one-ounce price.