The 8 day celebration of Hanukkah began this last Friday evening, tonight Jewish families around the world will light the third candle, celebrating the miracle of the oil.
In my work I try to highlight the winter celebrations of cultures from all around the world. I adore the holidays, and winter-time celebrations have existed since well before the birth of Christ, so while Christmas gets all the press (and is the holiday I myself celebrate), winter has long been a time to celebrate and gather together regardless of culture or beliefs.
Since this is the week of Hanukkah I wanted to highlight a few of my favorite Hanukkah story books.
As a child my mother bought me a book about the miracle of Hanukkah called Festival of Lights: The Story of Hanukkah. The book told the historical story of Maccabees rebuilding the temple and how the sacred oil for the lamp lasted 8 whole days, the books then goes on to explain the menorah, dreidel and the music for a favorite holiday song. For those gentiles out there, the book is a great introduction to the story behind the celebration.
Last year I stumbled upon another great Hanukkah book. Most books about the holiday seem to be written for a non-Jewish audience, but the book Moishe's Miracle is a great book for Jewish children who already know the holiday and its traditions as well as gentile kids who will find the story equally entertaining because Hanukkah is just the back drop to the action of the story.
In the United States we often associate Hanukkah with potato pancakes called latkes, these tasty treats (which make an appearance in Moishe's Miracle) are from the Ashkenazim tradition, the Jewish people of central and eastern Europe. But did you know that there are also Jewish people from Iberia and the Mediterranean, the Sephardic Jews? They have their own Hanukkah tradition of bunuelos. Bunuelos and latkes are both fried treats. Fried foods are very popular around Hanukkah because they hearken back to the miracle oil in the temple. The Sephardic Jews brought the tradition of bunuelos with them to Mexico and they are now a popular treat for Christmas as well.
Here is a great recipe, just like my lita makes them!
Latkes and bunuelos are both easy to make - try them out this week with your family.