What Happens for Hanukkah?


Julia Nicole Venus

Hannukkah is a Jewish tradition. Julia Nicole Venus cartooned this candle picture.

Julia Nicole Venus, Sting Reporter

Hanukkah, like the majority of people know, is a traditional Jewish holiday, but there is more to it than that. The original story of the first Hanukkah is also referred to as the miracle of lights in which some Jewish folk were trapped in an area without light. Their lantern only had enough oil to last them for a day but it ended up burning for eight, thus starting the legend of the miracle. Hanukkah is a strange holiday in the fact that it lasts eight days long, but this is to signify the eight days that the lantern burned.

This year’s Hanukkah starts on December eighteenth at sundown. The menorah is a candelabra of sorts that holds nine skinny candles. The middle candle is called servant or shamus, pronounced sha-mez, candle and is used to light the other eight candles on the menorah. The shamus candle is lit every lighting and one other candle is lit on the first day then two other on the second day and so on. The candles traditionally should start to be lit at sundown and they are to be let alone to burn all the way down without being disturbed or blown out. There is also a song for each of the eight nights of hanukkah that should be sung during the lighting of the candle. They are called the blessing of the first night, blessing of the second night and I’m sure you can guess the other six.

Now onto the more fun stuff. The Jewish game of dreidel spinning is most commonly played on Hanukkah. A dreidel is a spinning top that is traditionally made from clay but most modern ones are wooden. There are four sides to the toy, each with a Hebrew symbol engraved or painted on it. The four symbols are shin, nun, he, and gimel. The dreidel is spun in hopes of winning the money in what is referred to as the pot but my family has always just played with chocolate coins. Landing gimel means one would take all the winnings in the pot, he, pronounced hey, wins half of the pot, shin has one put some of their own winnings into the pot, and nun allows nothing to happen.

Sure, family gathering and good ole’ tradition is wonderful but one of the best parts of the miracle has to be the food. The most common Hanukkah fan-favorite is definitely latkes, the potato pancake. Latkes are made with shredded potato, eggs, and optional onion pieces before they are cooked in olive oil where they stay until crispy golden-brown. Some more delicious dishes are matzo ball soup, beef brisket, challah bread or braided bread, knishes(baked or fried bread stuffed with potatoes, beef, and choice of veggies), and cabbage and beef soup. Two of the regular sweets are rugelach(similar to a croissant but it has fruit preserves and chocolate baked into the bread), and sufganiyot which is literally just fancy jelly donuts.

Happy Hanukkah!