History of Hanukkah
People of Jewish faith celebrate Hanukkah around the world to commemorate the victory of the Jews over the Hellenist Syrians in 165 BCE, and recognizes the miracle of the oil that lasted eight nights during the rededication of the Temple.
Also called the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah is a joyful family celebration during which gifts are exchanged, children play games, and traditional foods, such as latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly-filled doughnuts) are served. The foods of Hanukkah are often fried in oil, which is associated with the oil in the Temple lamps.
Traditions and Confections at Hanukkah
One of the traditions most associated with confections at Hanukkah involves a game played with a spinning top, called a dreidel. The dreidel has four sides, with a Hebrew letter on each side.
The game is usually played with chocolates or other candies, often with foil-wrapped chocolate coins known as gelt. To begin, every player puts one piece of chocolate into the pot, then everyone takes turns spinning the dreidel. Each one of the sides of the dreidel indicates what the player does on his or her turn:
- Nun – the player takes no chocolate from the chocolate.
- Gimel – the player takes everything from the pot.
- Hay – the player takes half the pot.
- Shin – the player puts one chocolate into the pot.
When a player has no more gelt, he or she is out, or may ask for a loan. The game is over when one player has every piece of gelt. We encourage the winners to share!