The Eight Days of Hanukkah
Hanukkah is an eight-day winter celebration observed by members of the Jewish faith. It commemorates a turbulent time in their history. (Yes, Chanukah and Hanukah are also correct spellings.)
It’s a miracle!
Back in the day, a small amount of oil was used to light the Temple’s menorah. It was only supposed to last one day but miraculously it lasted for eight! The menorah, a nine-branched candelabra, symbolizes this miracle of oil and is often prominently displayed in the window of a Jewish home during Hanukkah.
Eight days, nine lights?
For each of the eight nights of Hanukkah, families light their menorah with the shamash, the middle candle. Family and friends gather to eat, drink, recite blessings and be with their community. They often greet each other with “chag sameach” which means “happy festival” in Hebrew.
Steeped in tradition, literally
Hanukkah foods are typically fried, adding to the symbology of oil. Traditional favorites include latkes (potato pancakes) or sufganiyots (imagine a beignet crossed with a jelly donut).
Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel!
It’s tradition to play the dreidel game during Hanukkah. To win gelt, gold foil-covered chocolate coins, children take turns spinning the dreidel. Each side of the top-like toy has a hebrew letter — nun, gimel, hay, or shin. Those are abbreviations for “Nes gadol haya sham” which means “A great miracle happened there.” Fun and educational!