Hanukkah, which is Hebrew for “dedication,” is the Festival of Lights, and is celebrated this year starting with the first night on December 22nd. It commemorates the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrian Greek army, and the subsequent miracle of rededicating the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and restoring its menorah.The miracle of Hanukkah is that only one vial of oil was found, with just enough oil to last one day, yet it lasted for eight full days.
We celebrate Hanukkah by lighting the menorah, playing dreidel, and eating special foods like potato latkes with applesauce, and sufganiyot (jelly donuts). We sing Hanukkah songs and sometimes exchange gifts after lighting the menorah, which is also called a hanukkiah.
What Are Hanukkah Foods?
Many Hanukkah foods are deep-fried in oil, symbolizing the oil from the menorah used in the Temple. Other favorites include the Sephardic delicacy bimuelos. Chocolate gelt, a candy that gets its name from the Yiddish word for money, is another popular Hanukkah treat.
The custom of eating lots of fried foods centers around oil. Latkes (fried potato pancakes) are traditional, topped with applesauce or sour cream, but there are many variations to the pancakes and the toppings. Sweet, savory, with veggies, with nuts and spices, and many other delicious options are available.
Other fried foods for Hanukkah include sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts) and other kinds of fried fritters.