December 4th, 2015
This year, Hanukkah (sometimes written Chanukah) starts at sundown on Sunday, December 6th. It will continue until the evening of Monday, December 14th. In Hebrew, the word “hanukkah” means “dedication,” and this holiday celebrates the rededication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem following the victory of a small band of Jewish rebels (called the Maccabees) over the Syrian-Greeks in 165 BCE.
The story is that there was only enough oil to last one night, and the lamps were able to be lit for 8 nights.
Because this is the festival of the oil, traditional foods are fried. You might think the most common one would be the latkes or potato pancakes, but it’s actually the sufganiyot which is a fried donut filled with jelly.
Eating dairy food, especially cheese, is another tradition. Its story is in honor of Judith who, according to legend, saved her village from Syrian attackers. She fed the general Holofernes so much wine and cheese until he passed out. Judith took the general’s sword and chopped off his head which she brought back to her village in a basket. The next morning, the Syrian soldiers were so frightened by seeing the headless body of their leader that they headed for the hills.
The dreidel is played with and you can win gilt which are chocolate coins. In ye really olden times, the Syrians forbade people from learning the Torah. So the students kept the dreidels around, and pretended to gamble when the Syrians popped by. Outside of Israel, a dreidel has the Hebrew letters “nun,” “gimel,” “hay,” and “shin” on its four sides. These letters stand for “Nes gadol haya sham,” which means, “A great miracle happened there,” referring to Israel. An Israeli dreidel has the letter “pay” rather than “shin.” This stands for “poh,” meaning “here”a great miracle happened here.”
The Hebrew letters also represent Yiddish words that tell how to play the dreidel game. Each player starts with the same amount of candies, chocolate coins (gelt), or other tokens, and puts one in a pot. Players take turns spinning the dreidel, waiting to see which letter lands face up. Nun is for “nisht,” do nothing. Gimel is for “gants,” take the whole pot. Hay is for “halb,” take half. Shin is for “shtel,” add to the pot. The game ends when a single player wins all the tokens.
Thanks to: Hanukkah — Infoplease.com http://www.infoplease.com/spot/hanukkah.html#ixzz2ENeUj7cn for this information.
What’s your favorite part of Hanukkah?