Posts Tagged ‘Jewish Holidays’

Dial H For Hanukkah

December 22, 2008

Hanukkah aka “The Festival of Lights” aka Chanukah, has begun!

The first candle was lit last night, Sunday night.  I know that most American calendars probably have “First Day of Hanukkah” printed on Monday (today) and that is correct.  The Jewish calendar day starts at sundown, which means that a Jewish day goes from sundown-to-sundown.  This is why, for instance, the Sabbath starts on Friday night and ends Saturday night (sundown-to-sundown).    

Also, since the Jewish calendar is based on the lunar cycle, the holiday tends to move around the month of December.  Sometimes it extends as late as January and other years it starts as early as the first week of December.

I’ll be honest with you.  I don’t know if it’s Hanukkah or Chanukah.  The letter heth (pronounced as if you’re clearing your throat) has no real equivalent in English.  So call it, and spell it, how you like.  

The story surrounding the holiday is quite fascinating and worth reading.  It’s the story of rebel freedom fighters who risked their lives to regain their country and the miracle surrounding their victory.  All in all, I’m kind of amazed that this story was not made into an epic period drama back in the Golden Age of Hollywood.  

And, of course, what Jewish holiday is complete without food.  Potato pancakes, aka latkas, are fantastic.  Corky’s used to serve them all year-round, and their latkas were just insanely great (I think they even packaged them in supermarkets for a while).  I might have to hit Katz’s or Manny Hatten’s to see if they’re serving them up.  

And yes, kids do play dreidel, although we never played for money when I was a kid.  Our game was trying to get the dreidel to spin on its stem.  What you’d do is turn it upside-down and snap your fingers  and kind of toss it down on its stem and if you did it right, since the base wasn’t that heavy on the dreidels they used to give us at school, you could get it to land on the stem and spin like that for a while.  This was before Nintendo and I suppose we were all easily amused.    

It’s a great holiday, quite a lot of fun and the only one that I can think of that encourages kids to play with fire (kidding, there’s also The Fourth of July).   

If you have a Jewish friend or co-worker, wish them a “Happy Hanukkah” (or “Happy Holidays” if you don’t want to get in trouble with HR).