Happy Hanukkah! We’re now two days into celebration. Time for the really fun stuff! Hanukkah is characterized by the joyous traditions associated with it. Remember, it is a joyous occasion…and Jews don’t need much prodding to have a good time! So let’s explore a few traditions.
Womens Participation in Hanukkah
Traditionally, women play a major role in the celebration of Hanukkah. In the Middle Ages, Hanukkah became almost sacred for women and they were typically granted a reprieve from housework following the evening lighting of the candles. In fact, according to Rabbi Joshua ben Levi, because women took part in the original miracle, they are to light the Hanukkah menorah each evening, proclaiming the miracle.
It is customary for Jewish children to play dreidel during Hanukkah. They are given chocolate coins (called “gelt”) or some other form of chips to be played during the game. A dreidel is a spinning top with a Hebrew letter on each of 4 sides. Those letters make up an acronym which means “a great miracle happened there” (in Hebrew: “Nes Gadol Hayah Sham,” thus commemorating the Hanukkah miracle. Here’s a short tutorial on how to play dreidel:
What in the world is a latke? Well, this Jewish festival features certain kinds of food, namely those made with oil. Again, oil is a reminder of the miracle…one day’s supply of olive oil, used for lighting the menorah, lasting 8 days! So, it is only fitting that oily foods would be part of the celebration!
A latke is a potato cake fried in oil! (Yum yum…my kind of treat!) Latkes are served during Hanukkah as a reminder of the miracle of oil. Latkes are fairly simple to make. Here’s how to make the perfect latke for Hanukkah:
PS: the key to keeping them from falling apart is to be sure all the moisture is out of them before frying!
Sufganiyot seem to be more popular in Israel than latkes are. What are they, pray tell!?! Sugar-covered jelly doughnuts! Again, a fried food, made with oil to commemorate the miracle! Most of us in the US would just run to the nearest doughnut shop for our Hanukkah sufganiyot. However, if you wish to make your own, or any number of other deliciously fried Hanukkah treats, check out these Recipes for Hanukkah! (In Israel, really good sufganiyot are to die for!)
I hope you are enjoying this Hanukkah season! To all my Jewish friends around the world: Happy Hanukkah! To all my Christian friends, remember: “No Hanukkah, no Christmas!” So thank a Jewish person for the enduring heritage and “Never say die” hardiness of the Jewish people.
PS: If you missed the previous posts regarding Hanukkah, you will find them here: