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When Does Hanukkah 2012 Start?

The Jewish holiday begins a little early this year.

Mark your calendars for the 25th day of the month of Kislev. That's when Hanukkah starts in 2012.

For those of us who aren't so tuned into the Jewish calendar, that translates to sundown on Saturday Dec. 8. The holiday, also called the Festival of Lights, lasts eight days.

Hanukkah commemorates the story of the Maccabean Revolt against Syrian rulers in present day Israel 2,300 years ago. The Maccabees wanted to rededicate Jerusalem's main temple but had only enough oil to kindle the Eternal Light for one day. Yet the oil lasted for eight, according to the story, and thus the holiday of Hanukkah was born.

Today Jews generally celebrate by gathering together with family, lighting a menorah over the course of eight days, playing dreidel and eating special holiday food, like potato latkes.

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