Chanukah is the festival of lights… and food!
Latkes (potato pancakes) are perhaps the most famous Chanukah food in the diaspora, while in Israel we eat sufganiyot (donuts) ranging from the traditional jelly-filled powdered sugar-covered version to the most outlandish flavor-infused variants.
What is Chanukah?
Chanukah is a Jewish festival commemorating the re-dedication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem on the Temple Mount at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Greek Empire. It is also known as the Festival of Lights due to the miracle of the small amount of oil, enough to last only a single day, lasting eight days.
How do we celebrate?
The holiday of Chanukah is observed for eight days and nights. Jews follow the Hebrew (Lunar) Calendar, so the holiday begins each year on the 25th day of the month Kislev. On the Gregorian (Solar) Calendar, this fluctuates so that the holiday differs every year and usually occurs between late November to late December. The festival is observed by lighting the candles of a Menorah (Hannukiah) which has nine branches after the sun goes down. One branch, called the Shamash, is typically placed above the others and its candle is used to light the other eight candles. Each night, one additional candle is lit by the shamash until all eight candles are lit together on the final night of the festival.
Other Hanukkah traditions include playing the game of dreidel and eating oil-based foods, such as potato latkes and sufganiyot, and dairy foods. Public celebrations in the USA are done primarily by local synagogues and Chabad Lubavitch houses.
What do we eat?
The majority of the food traditions of Chanukah have their origins traced from the time the holiday was first celebrated in 165 BCE, the re-dedication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, and the miracle of the one-days’ worth of oil lasting eight nights.
So in celebration here are some of our favorite Chanukah Recipes: