In modern times, Jewish families, like my own, celebrate Hanukkah by eating homemade meals cooked in oil. Two of the significant Hannukah dishes include Latkes, which are potato pancakes, usually topped with applesauce or sourcream. Soufganiot (pronounced Soof-GAH-NEE-yote) is a fried doughnut stuffed with jelly and topped with powdered sugar. The reason for the tradition of eating food cooked in oil is to remember the miracle of the oil lasting for eight days at the temple and to celebrate victory over our enemies.
Years ago, I had a friend from Germany who taught me about the tradition of St. Nicholas Day on December 6th. On the eve of December 5th, all the children in Germany put a shoe outside for St. Nicholas to fill with goodies and toys, much like the tradition of the stocking on Christmas Eve. It is a chance to see if all of the children are behaving as they ought to in preparation for Christmas to come, and the proverbial naughty and nice list is made.
Each winter, Jews around the world celebrate the eight-day festival of Hanukkah, which means “dedication” in Hebrew. The holiday is especially welcome in the northern hemisphere, where it aligns with some of the darkest and shortest days of the year. Also known as the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah celebrates freedom of worship, liberation from oppression, and the bravery of previous generations to seek light in the face of darkness.