At sundown today, Jewish people around the world and at CSU begin an eight-day celebration of a historic military victory.
"It's not the Jewish Christmas," said Hillel member Beth Goldberg, a freshman human development and family studies major, of the Jewish holiday Chanukah. "I hate when people say that."
Though the holiday is Americanized with presents because it is so close to Christmas, in the Jewish religion Chanukah is not the most important holiday – it's actually fifth or six on the list, said Kayla Brummett, the president of the Hillel chapter at CSU. And there is more to the holiday than presents.
"The Macabees tried to destroy the Jews," said Brummett, a junior English major. "They destroyed the temple. (The Jews) found some oil, which was only supposed to last one night, and it lasted for eight nights."
The menorah, a candleholder with eight candles, is lit each night of Chanukah to represent the eight nights the oil lasted.
Another symbol of the holiday is the dreidel, a four-sided top.
"It's kind of like a gambling game," Brummett said.
A pot in the middle of the dreidel-playing area serves as the prize for the winner. Each player starts by betting the same amount of chocolate, raisins or coins, Brummett said. Each side of the dreidel has a Hebrew symbol to represent what happens after each spin: gimel, nun, shin and hey. Gimel means the player gets everything in the pot; nun means the player doesn't get anything; shin requires the player to put in an extra piece; and hey rewards the player with half the pot's worth.
Throughout the rest of the holiday, which runs through Dec. 15, Hillel will hold several events for students of all ages and faiths. An interfaith discussion will be held on Wednesday in conjunction with United Campus Ministry where students can learn about different traditions. During finals week, Hillel is hosting a menorah lighting in the residence halls, and there will also be Jewish story telling, Brummett said. There will also be lots of latkes for fans of the fried pancake-like bread.
Brummett said the most important thing about the holiday to her is being with family and friends.
"My favorite part about Chanukah is just the closeness of friends and family," Brummett said. "(Growing up) we'd have family dinners. I'd invite one of my friends who wasn't Jewish and share our traditions. It's a fun time to celebrate with your family. It's very family oriented."