In the United States, the Jewish Festival of Lights is most commonly spelled as “Chanukah” or “Hanukkah”. However, there are a total of sixteen different ways to spell the holiday so you may see it spelled another way. The reason there are so many different ways is because the Hebrew Word, חֲנֻכָּה, can be transliterated in more than one format. Transliteration is when a person changes letters into corresponding characters of another alphabet or language.
Chanukah lasts for eight days and commemorates the length of time the oil lasted when the Temple in Jerusalem was re-dedicated. There was only enough to last one night, but it lasted eight nights and was a miracle. Each night, another candle is lit on the menorah so that all eight candles are lit by the eighth night. The menorah is lit from left to right and the shamas, the tallest candle, is used to light the other candles. Typically, people eat latkes (potato pancakes) to celebrate. Celebrate Chanukah in Chestnut Hill! You can pick up potatoes from Yu’s Produce at the Farmers Market in Chestnut Hill Philadelphia behind the Chestnut Hill Hotel this holiday season! It is also common to eat fried foods because it commemorates the miracle that occurred with the oil. Sephardic Jews eat different kinds of fried donuts; Greek Jews call them Loukomades; Persian Jews call them Zelebi, and Israelis eat jelly donuts called Sufganiot.
Dreidel is popular game. It is “top” that is spun and has four sides. Players put a piece of chocolate gelt into the middle at the beginning of each round. Each player spins the dreidel. If it lands on a “nun”, the player takes nothing. If the dreidel lands on a “hay”, the player gets half of the pile in the middle. “Gimmel” means the player takes everything and “shin” means the player puts one piece of gelt into the middle.
Every year, Chanukah falls on the 25th day of Kislev. However, since the Jewish calendar is based on the lunar cycle, it falls on a different date every year in the Western Calendar. The first day can occur anywhere from November 28 to December 26. This year Chanukah is late and coincides with Christmas Eve.
We hope you enjoy the holiday with your friends and family. See you in 2017!