The 12/18 Day Thread Wishes You A Happy Hanukkah

Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah! Or Chanukkah, or whatever. It’s a Hebrew transliteration, which means spelling is very loosey-goosey.

Hanukkah has been hyped up so it can compete with Christmas, but it’s really a minor holiday. It’s a “They tried to kill us/We won/Let’s eat” celebration, like far too many Jewish holidays. My kids’ first grade teacher disillusioned them of the Miracle of the Oil (burning for 8 days when there was only enough for 1), which I think contributed to my daughter’s atheism. Let kids believe, will you, people?

Anyway. We light a nine-stemmed candleabra called a menorah, or more properly hanukkiah, since any multi-stemmed candleabra is a menorah no matter how many branches it has. The ninth candle, the shamash, is used to light the other eight candles. You light one candle on the first night (plus the shamash), two on the second, and so on up to eight. Some Jewish families give gifts to the kids each night, but this is not a requirement. You don’t have to have gifts at all. This is another assimilation tactic.

Other fun things include have a gambling game by spinning a dreidel, singing songs, and eating potato latkes (pancakes) fried in oil, because of the miracle of the oil. Doughnuts are also a popular food choice for the same reason.

When my kids were little, I got them the Lamb Chop Hanukkah Special on DVD. This and the Rugrats show are the only two TV specials I know about Hanukkah. Oh, and then there’s Eight Crazy Nights, but that’s Adam Sandler. Ugh.

Last thing: Never, never, NEVER put a hanukkiah/menorah on a Christmas tree. That’s wrong for so many reasons. Beside is OK, but don’t burn the tree down.

So whether or not you’re Jewish—Happy Hanukkah!