Peaches Prattlings

{December 16, 2014}   Happy Chanukah

Tonight is the first night of Chanukah, Happy Chanukah.

I know we have talked about this before, but here we are, it is the first night of Chanukah and I want to share some things.

As you know, or may not know… Chanukah or as some spell it Hanukkah, really a personal preference, is referred to as The Festival of Lights. The abridged version is that when the temple was destroyed and the Jews went in to rebuild it, they found enough oil to light the lamps for one night and lo and behold, a miracle, the oil lasted for eight nights!

That is the reason we celebrate for eight nights and certain foods we fry in oil, like potatoes which give us yummy potato latkes or pancakes and donuts, filled with jam, for a sweet year. I don’t know if you remember last year, the first night of Chanukah was also Thanksgiving, so we themed a lot of the foods around both holidays, so much fun to share the experience with friends and family.

We play games, like deridel, a spinning top with a Hebrew letter on each side telling you if you get half, have to give some, get nothing or get the entire pot! You could play with peanuts, pretzels, real coins or the traditional Chanukah gelt, chocolate coins. There is a great song to go along with the game, you may have heard it, ‘Deridel, Deridel, Dreidel’. Be warned, the game can get heated!

There are some great songs associated with Chanukah, such as ‘Oh Chanukah, Oh Chanukah”, this one performed by Bare Naked Ladies

And I am sure you remember Adam Sandler’s “The Chanukah Song”, this is a great song that makes me laugh when I hear it!

Traditionally, we give gifts to friends and family and it is one gift per night. I always found it funny that there were kids when I was younger who celebrated Christmas thought I had it better because I had eight nights of gifts, I would tell them we probably get the same number of gifts, its just that we open one per night. In my family growing up, we would have one big family gift, like tickets to the Nutcracker at Rockefeller Center or one year, a Commodore 64! We were styling! And then little gifts for the other nights.

The games, gifts, food are all good, but it is the meaning of the holiday and how we celebrate and hold it near to our hearts. We gather together over a menorah, maybe some of us have more than one…I have quite the collection that my family has given me over the years [and I wish I could find the pictures right now!] and I treasure each one, and each night, we light the shamans, that is the candle that is set apart, maybe above, to the side, but it is the candle we light, say the blessing and then use to light the other candles.

I love when I have friends with me to share the experience, I say the prayer and some choose to do it with me. When my kids were younger, they loved helping to light the menorah and say the blessing. And…I have so many menorah that sometimes, people get their own!

One of my favorite memories from childhood, aside from lighting the menorah, playing deridel and my mother’s amazing potato latkes, which were fun to introduce to new people celebrating with us, was the stories that she would read every night. I wish I could remember the name of the book, but every night, she would pick one of the eight stories and read to us, it didn’t matter how old we got, she would still read a story to us every night of Chanukah, I think there was even a year that she read them over the phone, I miss that.

Tonight, I got a call at dinner from my sister, and when I said hello, EJS said Hi! Well, hello there, how are you? Happy Chanukah!  Thank you for my science experiment, I cant wait to do it with you this weekend! Wait until she gets the rest of what I got her!

The Festival of Lights truly is a miracle , in so many ways. What it says to and about us as a people and what ir represents and how we are keeping those traditions alive!

Some people don’t know anyone who is Jewish or maybe you were the first they met, which is the case for me often. Someone, a dear friend, from collage posted this on my wall tonight:

Very happy Hanukkah to all my Hebrews and Shebrews! I have some amazing Jewish folks in my life but, let’s face it, you never forget your first. Sending love from long ago!

Happy Chanukah or Hanukkah to one and all! May it be sweet and bright!


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