December is almost here and with it comes the holiday season. If you celebrate Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, it’s time to start preparing for those great Hanukkah traditions. There are a number of them out there, and all of them have very important meanings.
The most well-known Hanukkah tradition is lighting the menorah. This traditional candelabrum represents the victory of the Meccabees over the Syrians. Eight of the candles of the menorah are lit during the eight days of the festival, with the extra ninth candle, the shamash, lit at special times. Several blessings are also recited over the menorah during the festival.
Another popular Hanukkah tradition is spinning the Dreidel. The Dreidel is a small four-sided spinning top that has a Hebrew letter engraved on each side. The letters represent the sentence “A Great Miracle Happened There,” and children enjoy spinning the Dreidel and remembering the story that is linked to the game.
There are many Hanukkah traditions linked to food as well. Many Hanukkah foods are cooked with olive oil. This is based on the story of the lights in the temple. After retaking the Holy Temple of Jerusalem from the Maccabees, it was discovered that there was only a small amount of olive oil left to light the menorah. However, a miracle occurred, and the menorah stayed lit for eight days. Some traditional Hanukkah foods include latkes, loukomades, pretzels (which are actually butter cookies shaped like Hanukkah symbols, not what most people think of as pretzels), and sufganiyots.