Chanukah Customs and Rituals!

5 years ago Archive 0

In today’s society Chanukah has become synonymous with gift giving and presents, but there’s a whole lot more to this holiday than that. Rich with customs and traditions, it’s time to explore them all!

Of course, the most famous custom of all is lighting the menorah. The story of Chanukah in a super condensed nutshell is that, years and years ago after the Maccabees fought, and prevailed over the Greeks (miracle number one), there was only a tiny bit of kosher oil which would last one day, but instead ended up lasting for eight days, until the Jewish people could obtain more oil (miracle number two). Since the oil lasted the Jews eight days, we now light our Menorah’s eight candles (nine including the shamash) during Chanukah, some even use oil too;just watch out, and be careful not to burn your hair!

Speaking of oil, many Jews have a custom of eating fried foods to commemorate the miracle of the oil so many years ago! Latkes (fried potato pancakes), and sufganiyot (jelly donuts) are very popular dishes many people eat on Chanukah. Depending on your ancestry however these dishes can vary. My Iraqi family makes zingula (fried sugary “mini funnel cakes”), Many Jews also have the custom of eating dairy dishes on Chanukah.

Playing with dreidels and winning gelt (chocolate coins) may be tons of fun but it has a story too. When the Jews were forbidden to study torah by the Greeks, young children would quickly take out their dreidels to trick the Greeks into thinking they were playing games, not studying torah. In Israel the letters on the dreidel are Nun, Gimmel, Hay, and Pay, neis gadol haya po (a great miracle happened here) , and in any other country the dreidels read Nun, Gimmel, Hay, Shin, neis gadol haya sham, (a great miracle happened there).

By the end of Chanukah night you might find yourself sitting with family and friends, rejoicing as you all sing Maoz Tzur, Chanukah oh Chanukah, and wishing everyone a happy holiday!