By Kelsey Rendelman
Hanukkah is here! This holiday is known to many because of its proximity to Christmas but was historically a minor holiday in Judaism, gaining popularity in the late 1800’s. Here is a little history about the holiday as well as some traditional ways people celebrate. This is the perfect time of year to help your girls discover diversity in Girl Scouting.
In Hebrew the word “Hanukkah” means “dedication”. The name reminds us that this holiday commemorates the re-dedication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem where the Maccabees wanted to light the “eternal flame” but only had enough oil to burn for one day. Miraculously, the little bit of oil lasted for all eight days needed for the re-dedication!
Today, Jewish families light candles using a “hanukkiyah” or “menorah” for the eight days of Hanukkah, adding one candle each night. One candle sits higher than the others and is the first candle lit every
night and is then used to light the remaining candles. This special candle is called the “Shamash” and is often referred to as the “helper candle”.
There are many traditions for celebrating Hanukkah including games, food, candle lighting and gift giving. Mainly the holiday focuses on gathering the people you love to share food, blessings, music, and love which are passed on through the ages. The game of Dreidel is often played by children during the
holiday. The toy Dreidel is similar to a spinning top with four sides with a Hebrew letter on each side. The game is usually played with chocolate tin foil covered coins called “Gelt”.
Another fun Hanukkah tradition is eating fried foods! Because Hanukkah celebrates the miracle of oil, it is traditional to eat fried foods such as “latkes” and “sufganiyot” during the holiday. “Latkes” are potato pancakes usually served with applesauce and “sufganiyot” are jelly filled donuts that are fried and sometimes dusted with confectioners’ sugar.
Recipes of the season
Fun Dreidel game