Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Hanukkah, the Festival of lights. Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday which corresponds somehow to the Christian Christmas (in terms of dates, at least). On this holiday, Jewish celebrate a miracle that happened thousands of years ago in the old Jerusalem, when Antiochus IV and his troops desecrated the sacred Temple leaving enough oil to burn for one day. In order to get another supply of oil for the Temple, the Jews would have to wait for 8 days...and, miraculously, the oil in the Temple burnt for as long as 8 days. At the same times, some Jews who were particularly upset with Antiochus IV disrespectful behavior, joined together to fight against his troops. The Jewish warriors, known as the Maccabees, were greatly outnumbered by Antiochus IV soldiers, but they managed to win the battle. This victory is also seen as a miracle and is also celebrated during Hanukkah. Since my host family is Jewish, I got to participate in the celebrations an see how it works. An essential part of Hanukkah is the menorah, where the 8 candles (one for each night) plus the shamash (the candle used to light the others) are set. At sundown (or a little later) of the first night of Hanukkah, the shamash and the first candle are lit. On the second night, a second candle will e lit, and so on until the 8th night. Along with the lighting of the candles, people like to say some prayers and to sing a few songs. After that, in the American version of Hanukkah, each person inthe family gets one present and opens it. Finally, the family plays dreidle, a typical Hanukkah game in which a sort of spinner decorated with Hebrew alphabet letters is used in order to win chocolate money (known by Jews as Geld). A particular attention should also be given to Hanukkah typical food. From what i`ve seen, during hanukkah, Jewish traditionally eat very fattening food that is deep-fried in oil (because of the oil miracle). I tried the potato pancakes, also known by the Yddish word Latkes, and the doughnuts filled with fruit jam, also known as sufganyiot. I loved celebrating Hanukkah with my host-family: I got them some presents, but not as many as I received!! I was very, very lucky :) and I got very good presents!!

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