In the winter months, there are many celebrations by different cultures and religions which seek to drive out the darkness, among them the Jewish observance of Hanukkah (Chanukah) which this year will be celebrated beginning tonight, Tuesday, December 16 and ending on the evening of Wednesday, December 24. The dates of this festivity vary from year to year. In the Jewish lunar calendar, Hanukkah is a “floating” event, whereas Christmas is not (at least in modern times). Hanukkah, which means “dedication,” commemorates the re-dedication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. It is a celebration of victory in the face of adversity. The holiday is also called “The Festival of Lights.” The Menorah, a nine-branched candelabra, is displayed in homes with a new candle being lit on each night during the eight day observance. Originally, when the Jews first tried to light the Menorah, they found only enough oil for one night. Miraculously, the oil burned for 8 nights. The 9th and central candle is the Shamash which is used to light the other candles and is the first candle to be lit. Blessings are said over the candle lighting on each night.
Hanukkah is a happy occasion accompanied by delicious food including latkes (potato pancakes), brisket, challah and doughnuts In the photograph above, children play the traditional dreidel game with chocolate coins and a spinning top.
Potato pancakes: Photo courtesy the Food Network. These are so good that it’s hard not to overindulge. While they can make a serious dent in your diet plan, that’s what holiday food is all about. And these are worth it!