Hanukkah, a Jewish festival, commemorates a military victory against insurmountable odds. This year’s Hanukkah celebration began on Thursday, December 7, 2023 and ends on Friday, December 15, 2023. While Hanukkah is usually celebrated in December, people may wonder if the Hanukkah celebrations are a Jewish form of Christmas. However, Hanukkah is a traditional celebration unique to Judaism.
The history of Hanukkah goes back to 164 B.C. The eight-day Jewish festival celebrates the victory of the Maccabees (a group of Jewish people) over the Syrian Greeks. The Greeks had conquered the Land of Israel, destroying the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and banning individuals from practicing Judaism. After fighting for three years, the Maccabees had only enough oil to light their candles for one night. Despite this, the oil kept the candles burning for eight nights, and the Maccabees were victorious. They reclaimed their temple and were able to freely practice their religion.
During Hanukkah celebrations, activities include lighting the menorah (a candelabra with nine candles) and saying blessings. Traditional Hanukkah games are played, such as the popular dreidel game. Families will enjoy Hanukkah recipes like latkas (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly donuts). During this merriment-filled time, songs are sung and gifts are exchanged, while families spend time together.
Baking Kosher Desserts
Kosher homes will not allow any food that was not prepared in a kosher kitchen. When baking desserts for Jewish friends and family, you must take utmost care and consideration to guarantee that the food you are cooking is kosher, as there are many specific rules you must follow. Check in with the hosts for any food restrictions, and that the kitchen being cooked in and utensils used, are kosher.
Dessert Recipes to Try
The Olive Oil Sufganiyot (Hanukkah Jelly Doughnuts) is a fantastic recipe for traditional donuts.
My Mother’s Ultimate Chocolate Babka is a decadent chocolate sweet braided bread.
The Chanukah Party Surprise Cake is a fancy layered chocolate cake filled with edible gold coins.
If you’re a fan of gingerbread, try baking the Gingerbread Hamsa Cookies—a tasty treat.
Jewish Wedding Customs
While there are traditions that are commonly celebrated at Jewish weddings, each wedding will vary slightly depending on the couple’s religious and cultural background. Popular traditions include breaking a glass, a ring ceremony, and the hora dance (sometimes referred to as the chair dance). A blessing is made between the couple, in addition to blessings over wine. Celebrations may differ based on how traditional the particular wedding is. Conservative dress may be advised and some activities may be separated by gender.
For additional information regarding Jewish customs and celebrations, visit the following sources to learn more.
Images obtained from Pexels.