Recite this blessing the first time you do something each Jewish calendar year (e.g., the first night of Hanukkah when you light the menorah), and to mark joyous occasions.
The Hebrew word Hanukkah means “dedication” and refers to the joyous eight-day celebration through which Jews commemorate the victory of the Maccabees over the armies of Syria in 165 B.C.E. and the subsequent liberation and “rededication” of the Temple in Jerusalem.
As you’ve undoubtedly heard, the Jewish calendar and the secular calendar offer a strange convergence in the United States this year as Hanukkah and Thanksgiving coincide. The Jewish media has been full of humorous articles about combined menus (like this one from Jewish cooking expert Tina Wasserman) featuring foods like latkes with cranberry sauce, and the term “Thanksgivukkah” has been coined to describe the merged holiday.
The Hebrew word hanukkah means "dedication," and refers to the rededication of the second temple to the service of God during the successful revolt of the Maccabees against the Seleucid rulers of Syria in the second century BCE.