This shorthand description of ALL Jewish holidays has been part of Jewish humor for some years. Or, as our web manager Dale Hobson put it, “The Jews didn’t survive for 3,000 years by missing meals.”
Does the description work for Hannukah which began at sundown? You bet. The Maccabees survived an attempt by Antiochus IV to wipe them out, then successfully drove the Syrian forces from the temple in Jerusalem. The leader of the Maccabees proclaimed an eight-day celebration which came to be known as the Festival of Lights.
I feel pretty confident in saying there must have been a lot of feasting during that first Hannukah celebration. Why eight days? Well, the story that’s survived through centuries is this: oil for the temple, that was expected to last for only one day, actually kept burning for eight days.
So, oil–and fried foods–are traditionally used in Hannukah meals. In Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish tradition potato pancakes (latkes) are the must-have holiday fare. In Sephardi (people descended from the Iberian peninsula Jews who were expelled in 1492) tradition, fried dough or pastries (buneulos) are the standard fare.
Happy Hannukah to all. Enjoy those fried foods–after eight days, it’s back to that healthy diet.