The Festival of Lights

Overview of Chanukah

Chanukah is an 8 day celebration remembering the miracle victory, when the Jewish fighting force, the Maccabbes defeated Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Seleucid king who had invaded Judaea. Although the Maccabbes were a small fighting force, they were able to prevail, and save the land of Judaea. On Chanukah it is tradition for Jewish families to gather around a Menorah, a candle holder with 9 spaces, and sing blessings thanking G-d for the miracle of Chanukah. The menorah is light each night adding one more candle, the is tradition comes from when the second temple was destroyed, and the Jews had enough oil for one night; however, miraculously it lasted for 8 days. Another Tradition of Chanukah is the exchanging of gifts; however, no one knows where this started. Chanukah usually falls between November and December, its date always changes, because it is based on the Hebrew Calander. On Chanukah many families hang out, and eat traditional Jewish foods, like Latkes, and Gelt. Latkes are tasty potato pancakes, and gelt is a chocolate coin. These traditions are important to Jews all around the world.

Why are these foods served?

Latkes are served on Channukah because they are a delicious, and tasty treat. Latkes have a symbolic value, because they are fried in oil. The oil represents the miracle of Channukah, because the oil in the lamp lasted for eight days. Another popular food on Channukah is a tasty chocolate treat called gelt. Gelt is symbolic because it is the gambling piece in the game dreidel. The dreidel is symbolic, because the Hebrew letters make the phrase nes gadol haya sham, meaning “a great miracle happened there.” This is reffering to the great miracle of the Hebrew people winning the war, and protecting their traditions. Channukah is one of the rare Jewish holidays, that is celebrated almost the same in all areas of the world.

Potato Latkes | Everyday Food with Sarah Carey


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