The Festival of Lights begins this evening! Follow along as our 3P reader Sharon helps us learn more about the first day of Hanukkah with recipes, games, and more! So many beautiful (and delicious) customs take place this next week for those who celebrate Hanukkah…dreidels and menorahs, gelt, latkes and lots to learn about!
Hanukkah is described as the eight-day festival of lights that celebrates the “triumph of light over darkness, and of spirituality over materiality”. Our thoughtful “frieder” Sharon shared a few of her customs with the 3P team, and we’re so grateful to her for opening her home and sharing with us!
Each night, a candle is lit on the menorah to celebrate the festival of lights. Each candle is placed on the menorah from right to left but they are lit left to right, except for the service candle which is always first. The “service candle” is kept in the middle, and the candles burn until they extinguish on their own…they’re never blown out. Menorahs are a gorgeous sight when all lit up…
One of the most fun traditions of Hanukkah is of course playing the Dreidel game! Sharon keeps a beautiful glass jar of treasured Dreidels.
“Oh, dreidel, dreidel, dreidel…I made you out of clay…And when you’re dry and ready…Oh Dreidel we shall play!” ..And here’s how: Players receive “gelt” which signifies money…”gelt” can be chocolate or toy coins, pretzels, real pennies, and other goodies. With each spin of the treasured top…players follow the symbol that tells them their turn. Each side of the dreidel bears a letter of the Hebrew alphabet: נ (Nun), ג (Gimel), ה (Hei), ש (Shin). Nun = the Yiddish word nisht (“nothing”), Hei = halb (“half”), and Gimel = gants (“all”). With every spin, players either lose a turn, add to the “pot”, take half of the “pot” or “winner takes all”!
What would a holiday celebration be without a traditional meal? Latkes, or Potato Pancakes are a delicious addition to the holiday!
Sharon shared her favorite “Go-To” recipe for these crispy delights from Joan Nathan’s Book “Jewish Holiday Kitchen”:
Ingredients: Serves 8-10
10 medium potatoes
2 medium onions
2 large or 3 medium eggs
1/4 cup flour, matzo meal, or breadcrumbs
salt and white pepper to taste
vegetable oil for frying
Accompaniments: sour cream and applesauce
1. Peel potatoes if the skin is coarse. otherwise just clean them well. Keep them in cold water until ready to prepare the latkes.
2. Starting with the onions, alternately grate (into a bowl) some of the onions on the large holes of the grater and some of the potatoes on the smallest holes. This will keep the potato mixture from blackening/oxidizing. Press out as much liquid as possible and reserve the starchy sediment at the bottom of the bowl.
3. Mix the potato mixture with eggs, flour, salt and pepper.
4. Heat 1 inch of oil in a frying pan. Drop about 1 tablespoon of mixture for each latke into the skillet and fry, turning once. When golden and crisp on each side, drain on paper towels. Serve with sour cream or applesauce.
TODAH, Sharon! (Or thank you in Hebrew) wishing your family a beautiful holiday and families around the world a very Happy Hanukkah!