Put on your yarmulke, here comes Chanukah
BY ELIZABETH WILLIAMS DECEMBER 18 2014
Hanukkah, alternatively spelled Chanukah, is a holiday that celebrates light over darkness.
It is a Jewish holiday that starts on the evening of the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev and ends eight days later. This year it starts on the evening of Dec. 16 and ends the evening of Dec. 24.
Hanukkah has many of different traditions associated with it, such as lighting the Menorah, playing dreidel and eating foods fried in olive oil.
“My favorite memory of Hanukkah is making latkes with my family,” freshman Emily Robinson said.
According to the New York Times, latkes are similar to pancakes, and made with cheese potatoes and oil. Latkes are dipped and fried in oil, which commemorates the Hanukkah oil.
“My favorite tradition is playing dreidel with my family,” Robinson said. “We use M&Ms instead of chocolate coins.”
The dreidel is the Jewish version of a teetotum, a gambling toy in many European countries.
“So basically it’s a spinning top with four sides,” Robinson said. “Each side has a different meaning, and, well you can play with little tokens or chocolate coins or something like that.”
Most people know what a dreidel is because of the iconic song, but not everyone knows the rules of the game.
“Every turn everyone puts in one piece, and what you spin depends on if you get it back or not, if you run out you lose.” Robinson said. “On your turn you roll either a Nun, Gimel, Hei, or Shin; if you roll Nun you get nothing, if you roll Gimel you get all of them, Hei means you get half, and if you roll Shin you have to put another piece in.”
Another symbol of the holiday is the menorah, which is a ceremonial candle holder that holds nine candles, one for each day of the holiday and one to light the other candles.
“My favorite tradition is probably lighting the Menorah,” junior Alex Lavine said. “Because everything has a sort of quiet to it and the candlelight makes everything look so peaceful.”
The story of the menorah is where the symbolism of the oil comes from.
“A bunch of guys led some war,” Lavine said. “The other guys ransacked their supplies and took all of their oil, which was like electricity is now. The Miracle happened when what they had left lasted for eight nights instead of one, which I guess saved a lot of lives or something like that, hence the eight nights of Hanukkah.”
Hanukkah is the Jewish holiday most non Jews associate with the religion because of it’s closeness to the Christian holiday, Christmas. It is a holiday with many traditions.