8 Things You Need to Know About Chanukah

That’s right! We’re taking a break from our usual friendship series (and ice cream reviews woo!) to bring all of y’all some fun Chanukah facts! Get ready to light some candles, heat up your fryers, and learn about the lovely holiday of Chanukah!!

Chag sameach to all those celebrators out there <3

 

  1. Chanukah is commonly known as the festival of lights.  But… did you know Chanukah also celebrates a war victory!?

Little known fact! Chanukah marks the military victory of the small group of Jews (the Maccabees) over the massive Greek army. The Greeks tried to Hellenize the Jews and make Jewish practices illegal. But have no fear! The Maccabees led a rebellion against the Greeks and were successful. When the Maccabees recaptured the Temple in Jerusalem from the Greek army, they found only a small flask of oil. Miraculously, this oil lasted 8 whole days, keeping the menorah in the Temple lit. Hence Jews nowadays light candles for eight days! How awesome? Two miracles for the price of one holiday :)

2. Oily Miracle=Oily Foods=Oily skin (=Oy vey!)

To commemorate the tiny amount of oil that miraculously lasted for eight days, Jews have the awesome tradition of eating fried foods.  Basically, the miracle is a wonderful excuse to let all diet rules fall down the drain (thank goodness Chanukah comes in December before New Year’s resolutions!). Doughnuts (AKA sufganiyot) and potato pancakes (AKA latkes)...the more the merrier!

3. Chanukah is not even in the bible!

The miracle of Chanukah happened in a post-biblical period of history, so it doesn’t appear in the bible. This is why religious Jews can do things on Chanukah that they can’t on other holidays and on the Sabbath (such as writing and turning on lights)

4. English Teachers Beware!

The thing that holds the candles is actually called a Chanukiah, pronounced Cha-noo-kee-yah (like the karate noise!). The Menorah was the candelabra in the Temple, and it had seven branches instead of nine like the ones used nowadays. So next time someone says that he/she lights a “menorah,” you can be as obnoxious as you want and correct em!  

5. Now that we know what it’s called… How does one light this CHANUKIAH?

The Chanukah that we use has 9 branches and used to keep track of the days of the 8-day long holiday.  And no, we don’t add an extra candle for good luck like on birthday cakes :(. The ninth candle, called the shamash (helper candle), is used to light the others.  Another fun fact: we place the candles on our Chanukah from right to left, and light them from left to right. It’s super confusing!  Each person lights his or her own chanukiah, say blessings, and then it’s finally time to for this holiday to get LIT and the whole family jams out together to some rocking Chanukah songs (sometimes even the Adam Sandler one!).

6. Oy to the World

The chanukiot are placed by windows so that the whole world can see the candles to remember the miracle and to bring some light and joy into our everyday lives even when it gets dark outside so gosh darn early!

7. Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel…

Before the Maccabees staged their revolt, Jewish people would read banned Jewish texts in hiding, so that the Greeks wouldn’t see and punish them. But, sometimes the Greeks would walk in and catch them. As a cover-up, the Jews would pull out spinning tops (known in Yiddish as dreidels) and pretend that they were playing with them all along (because don’t we all play with spinning tops in hiding for hours on end?). To commemorate this, Jews play with dreidels during the holiday and compete for real or chocolate coins (called gelt).  And trust us, it gets realllly competitive!

8. Eight Days Equals Eight Gifts!

Well, this is kinda true. Jews do exchange gifts on Chanukah, but this tradition wasn’t originally Jewish (and neither was holiday sweaters!).  

 

Happy Holidays everyone!!!!