Why is My Kid Singing About Dreidels? And 7 other things you may have wanted to know about Hanukkah (or Chanukah. or Chanukka.) but didn't know how to spell. | Do Try This at Home: Why is My Kid Singing About Dreidels? And 7 other things you may have wanted to know about Hanukkah (or Chanukah. or Chanukka.) but didn't know how to spell.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Why is My Kid Singing About Dreidels? And 7 other things you may have wanted to know about Hanukkah (or Chanukah. or Chanukka.) but didn't know how to spell.

It happens that several people I know over the internet have expressed an interest in learning more about Chanukah.  There's a LOT to know out there, and I certainly don't claim to know much.  But here's a little bit about a little bit of it!

Why is My Kid Singing About Dreidels?  And 7 other things you wanted to know about Hanukkah.

1) What's the deal with the spelling (or lack thereof?)

Chanukah is a Hebrew and/or Yiddish word.  That means the word is spelled with letters that are not in English.  Some people have preferred spellings, but as far as a "correct" spelling goes...it depends who you ask.  I like to spell it as many ways as I can in a single document, both as a personal challenge and because I have a better chance of finding it with a search if I cover my bases.

2) WHY are we eating this time?

Back when Greece ruled Israel, there was (as we say in preschool) "a bad king" named Antiochus.  He told Jewish people that they had to eat pigs.  Pigs are like the EPITOME of not-kosher.  God said not to eat a bunch of stuff, but for whatever reason, even people who don't keep kosher sometimes draw the line at pig.

So Judah Maccabee and the Maccabees fought and fought and the Greeks destroyed the temple and ruined all the holy oil .  Obviously the Jews lived.  But they could only find one tiny bit of oil to last one day.  Miraculously the oil lasted for 8 days, long enough to make new oil and to bring about an eight night long festival of lights.

Or, that's the simple version at any rate.

Here's an even simpler (two minute long) explanation a la Sesame Street!

3) WHAT are we eating this time?

Lots of stuff with oil.  Because...oil.

The two biggies are potato latkes and sufganiot.

Latkes are what many people call potato pancakes.  I don't think there's a difference between a latke and a potato pancake, except that a truly traditional latke has chicken fat in it.  I usually make plain ole' latkes, though I've experimented with hiding veggies inside.

Amy at What Jew Wanna Eat has about a kajillion traditional and not traditional recipes right here!  She's planning on getting even MORE great latke recipes up soon!

Of course, no modern day table would be complete without some of the special foods being on a diet!   Beth Rosen offers this egg free, gluten free allergy free recipe at Goodness, Gracious Living!

allergy free latke recipe

Sufganiot recipes are a little harder to come by, but it's basically a jelly donut.

Chanukah Hanukkah jelly donut sufganiot

Brisket is also very popular at every Jewish meal.  I don't know why.  But I do know that Deb at Deb CB has been gracious enough to share her recipe here.

Chanukah Hanukkah brisket

4) Why does my kid always come home from school singing about a dreidel?

There are plenty of Hanukkah songs.  Tons of them.  But for whatever reason, every public school I've ever taught in or had a child in seems to only know that one song about the dreidel.

Driedel is a Hanukkah game involving a spinning top and...y'know...what basically amounts to gambling for candy.

Chanukah Hanukkah dreidel

Each letter on the dreidel is part of the acronym for "A Great Miracle Happened There".  The game is often played with Gelt (chocolate coins).

Want to try a different Hanukkah song this year?  This one SO fun!

5) What about presents?

My understanding is that presents are only a big deal in places where Hanukkah "competes" for attention with Christmas.  Some families do other special stuff each night instead of presents.  A friend and former coworker of mine plays dreidel with a different type of candy each night.  I knew a family that did a family activity together each night.

We do presents each night, because that's what we did when I was a kid.  Still, I like to keep them very small and then do like a bigger present on the last night.

Last year our Editor in Chief manipulated the situation to where she bought Rubix Cubes for our Head of Demolition and Head of Security to give to each other.  It was a roaring success:
Chanukah Hanukkah presents

Chanukah Hanukah presents

Chanukah Hanukkah presents

6) What's that menorah thing?

The commandment for Chanukkah is to light the menorah or chanukiah.  Most people have probably at least seen one.  It holds eight candles, one for each night and also a shamash, or helper candle.  On the first night, one candle is lit.  The second night, two candles, and so on.

chanukah candles

Judaism has a lot of rules.  You have to go from left to right or right to left or something.  That's why I like our menorah.  It doesn't have anything confusing like the shamash (helper candle that lights the other eight candles) in the middle.  Try not to study too closely.  We probably did it wrong.

Chanukah Hanukkah menorah

Menucha has an absolutely beautiful do it yourself menorah at Moms and Crafters:

Upcycled Chanukah Menorah

7) Crafts and stuff.

There's SO MUCH fun stuff to do for Hanukkah!! Here are some marshmallow dreidels I made with my Sunday school class a few years ago:

Marshmallow dreidel hannukah chanukah

Bible Belt Balabusta has SO many cool things!  Like a Lego menorah!  If I weren't trying to take over the internets and renovate our kitchen and sell Jamberries and raise a family and work two real jobs and stuff, I'd totally be perusing eBay and Amazon and stuff to find all the little Lego flames I could to build it.

8) Picture books

For a big list of 25 + Hanukkah picture books for big and little kids click here!

That's about it as far as a short and sweet overview.  I know a lot more about this stuff than I did when I started teaching in Jewish schools umpteen years ago, but I still totally reserve the right to be wrong.  About everything.

Happy Hanukkah, Chanukah, and Chanukka everyone!


Gigi said...

Love this

Jill said...

Thank you Gigi!

Unknown said...

Fun post...and now I'm hungry!

Rosemond said...

Such a fun post! And a simple explanation...plus I love all of the picture books!


Gale said...

Great post, and ADORE your title!

Tracy said...

I enjoy learning about other religions and traditions as I don't follow any of my own ;)
I have to say, I do love all of the food.
My stepmom made an awesome brisket last summer, now my husband expects me to do the same, lol.
Doubt thats going to happen ;)

Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid said...

This is such an awesome post. I am a human paradox; a Christmas loving Jew with both a Christmas Tree and a dreidel. (After reading this post, I totally need a chanukiah) too! Chanukah is probably my favourite Jewish holiday because the story is just way cool, and well, DONUTS! Although latkes are pretty awesome too. You should totally hunt down "Barenaked Ladies for the Holidays" CD it's got some cracking Chanukah songs on.

Jill said...

Thank you Patti, Rosemond, Gale, Tracy, & Samantha! I'll have to try out the CD. I think I used to have a different Barenaked Ladies kid CD for my classroom. Good luck with the brisket Tracy!!! I've never tried one!

Unknown said...

Thanks for this. We didn't grow up learning about Chanukah, though now that my kids are in school, *they* are learning. And sharing.
And now I have that Dreidal song stuck in my head!
Christine | Once upon a Time in a Bed of Wildflowers

gluten Free A_Z Blog said...

you've solved the mystery of Chanukah/hannukah/ chanukkah- Great post .. thanks

Unknown said...

Great post :) We don't do gifts for Hanukkah - just chocolate candy perhaps. I come from Russia originally, and my family always exchanged gifts on New Year.

I'll be sharing your post on facebook soon and have pinned it :)

Jill said...

Thank you Christine, Judee & Yuliya!

Lilly's Mom said...

I loved reading your blog about Hannukah. Thank you so much for sharing this info. I wish you the best for your holiday season.

Joy said...

Jill, thank you for all the information and explanations (and great pics!!). And a big thank you for sharing this with us at Treasure Box Tuesday- pinned! :)

the cape on the corner said...

yay, great post. chanukah is my preferred spelling, but i love how you use them all. have you ever heard of the leevees? they have a super fun cd called chanukah rocks that is totally worthy of radio play, as opposed to more traditional or too overly childish songs. i listen to my cd every year.
happy chanukah!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...