Hannukah, or Chanukah, or however you want to spell it is a traditional part of the Jewish religion. This year it falls on Thursday, Dec. 10 and ends Friday, Dec. 18.
Although it is not the holiest of the Jewish holidays, it has become mainstream in most parts of America.
There are so many things to do during Hannukah, including playing a traditional game called spin the dreidel and winning chocolate coins. There is cooking traditional foods such as latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (round jelly doughnuts), also. Most foods served during Hannukah are fried in oil to symbolize the eight nights of burning oil in the traditional religious story.
Lighting the menorah is also a tradition. A candle is added to the menorah every night of Hannukah. It does not matter the color or type of candle, but most people buy specific Hanukkah candles because the fit perfectly in the menorah.
On both sides of the menorah, there are four candle holders. In the center, there is the tallest candle holder. This center candle holder is called the shamash and that candle lights all the other candles.
Hannukah is celebrated because of an old historical event that took place in Jerusalem.
In 168 BCE during the time of the Seleucid Greek empire, practicing Judaism was outlawed and the Jewish Temple in the city was defiled. A small army of Jews called the Maccabees regained control over the Temple and a miracle occurred. There was seemingly only enough oil to keep the Temple’s menorah burning for one day. However, the flame stayed for eight days until a new supply of oil was found, hence the eight-day celebration.
In my family we cook traditional foods such as latkes, play spin the dreidel together, light the menorah, give gifts for each night, and pray by the menorah. We also listen to traditional blessings and a few upbeat songs like Adam Sandler’s “Chanukah Song.”
NOTE: this has been updated and corrected at 6:40 PM 12/11.