The Jewish holiday
Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is an important one in
the Jewish calendar. The holiday is meant to celebrate and remember the
165 BCE victory of the Jewish people over their occupying forces, the
Greek Syrians. For eight days, we commemorate the renewal of the Temple
as a holy power due to their triumph over their oppressors.
This year, Hanukkah
begins at sundown on Wednesday, December 1 and extends until sundown on December 9. These eight days of tribute represent the eight days
that the menorah burned in the newly reinstated Temple after the
triumph. While the oil in this menorah was expected to last a day,
it was still burning eight days later, providing many people with light.
To represent these eight days, we use a menorah, and light one of the
8 candles every night of Hanukkah. One is lit the first night, and
each following evening, the tradition is repeated with an additional lit
candle. At the end of the holiday, the entire menorah is filled with
light, hence completing the Festival of Lights.
While it is not
considered a religious holiday, Chanukah is festive, fun and filled with
many celebratory traditions. This is a time for families and friends to
come together for delicious food, songs, and gifts for all to enjoy.
Many Hanukkah treats are fried in
oil to represent the oil which allowed the candle to burn for eight
days. Some Hanukkah favorites are: potato latkes, jelly doughnuts (Sufganiyot) and fried chicken (anything fried will do!)
On each of the 8
nights of Hanukah, the menorah is lit and Hanukkah songs, such as "Dreidel,
Dreidel" or "Oh Chanukah, Oh Chanukah" are sung. Another favorite
Hanukkah activity is playing dreidel, a sort of spinning top with Hebrew
markings imprinted on each side. Each marking has a different meaning,
and an instruction for the player to either give or take from the
gelt (chocolate coins) or “gold” pile in the center.
The four different
Take nor receive any coins
Take all coins
Take half of the coins
Put one coin into the pile
This game has been
played for many years and continues to be an important and fun Hanukkah
tradition. Naturally, it is loved by all chocolate lovers!
Hanukkah Gift Giving
Hanukkah has become an important gift-giving occasion. The frequency and
size of gifts is determined by “family culture”. For example, during her
youth, Sherry Jonas, Challah Connection Customer Service Director
received a gift each of the 8 nights—“7 small gifts and 1 large gift.
The gift that stands out most is the packet of my favorite cookies that
I received that I didn’t have to share with anyone!” In contrast to the
every-night frequency is the giving of 8 gifts on one night only
(usually the first), which some families prefer. Like most things in
Judaism, whatever tradition you choose is ok!
Challah Connection Hanukkah Gifts
Here at the
Connection, we specialize in all of your Hanukkah gift needs.
Our Chanukah gift baskets come
packed with baked goods, gelt, blue and white cookies, nuts,
dried fruit and more. In addition, we can provide you with your material
Hanukkah needs, such as beautiful menorahs and candles, gifts for
children, and interesting Judaica. Challah Connection has everything you
need to make your Festival of Lights the best it can possibly be!
For more information on Chanukah, read our other articles:
Dreidel Game: How to Play
Tips for Enjoying a Hanukah
©2010, The Challah Connection