When I was in fourth grade I had my first introduction to Hanukkah. My friend explained the lighting of the menorah and we played dreidel and that there were 8 days of gift giving in her family. Seemed so unfair, we only got one day with Christmas, this Hanukkah thing was like Christmas on steriods. However, as I got older and learned more about different religious holidays I learned that Christmas and Hanukkah don't really have anything in common except their close proximity on the calendar. So what is this holiday actually about you ask? Well according to reformjudaism.org:
Hanukkah (alternately spelled Chanukah), meaning "dedication" in Hebrew, refers to the joyous eight-day celebration during which Jews commemorate the victory of the Maccabees over the armies of Syria in 165 B.C.E. and the subsequent liberation and "rededication" of the Temple in Jerusalem. For more history on Hanukkah please read here.
For our craft we actually did two things. First I had the boys make a card for their Aunt and Uncle- we did this with handprints as the Menorah. Please read below for info on the Menorah:
Menorah is a Hebrew word meaning “candelabrum” and refers to the nine-branched ceremonial lamp in which the Hanukkah candles are placed and blessed each night of the holiday. The nine branches include eight branches, one for each day of the holiday, and one branch for the shamash (servant) candle that is used to light the other candles. In ancient times, oil was used in the menorah. Over time, candles were substituted for oil. The Hanukkah menorah can also be called a hanukkiyah. (Seven-branched candelabra, one of the major symbols of the State of Israel today, are used for kindling the lights of Shabbat.)
To make the menorah out of handprints, I had each of my older two sons cover one hand each in ink and place onto a piece of paper with their thumbs meeting in the middle so that there were 9 branches. They then drew the "fire" above each finger. Our ninth branch still ended up with two flames-the kids have the artistic license though to do as they will for handmade holiday cards:)
We did two crafts for Hanukkah- I know I slacked all month and now I'm doing two for one. Well- I had to do dreidel with the kids. I loved playing when I was younger and I needed a reason to open up and eat the bag of m&ms in the closet. So we played dreidel with our own version made of paper and a pencil. Information on the dreidel game is below and our dreidel instruction can be found below that.
The word dreidel derives from a German word meaning “spinning top,” and is the toy used in a Hanukkah game adapted from an old German gambling game. Hanukkah was one of the few times of the year when rabbis permitted games of chance. The four sides of the top bear four Hebrew letters: nun, gimmel, hey, andshin. Players begin by putting into a central pot or “kitty” a certain number of coins, chocolate money known as gelt, nuts, buttons or other small objects. Each player in turn spins the dreidel and proceeds as follows:
- nun – take nothing;
- gimmel – take everything;
- hey – take half;
- shin – put one in.
Over time, the letters on the dreidel were reinterpreted to stand for the first letter of each word in the Hebrew statement “Neis gadol hayah sham,” which means “A great miracle happened there” and refers to the defeat of the Syrian army and the re-dedication of the Temple. In Israel, one letter on the dreidel differs from those used in the rest of the world. The shin has been replaced with a pey, transforming the Hebrew statement into Neis gadol hayah po, which means“A great miracle happened here.”
To make our paper dreidel you will need, a piece of paper, tape, and a pencil.
First fold one corner of paper to the side so you have a triangle. Cut the excess paper off so that when you unfold the paper you have a square.
Then open the paper and fold so the other ends come together so that you have creases that run from the corners of the square to the middle. At that center point you will make a hole that your pencil can go through.
Remove pencil. Fold the ends of the square to the center.
For the food portion I had to make latkes. Jelly donuts also sounded good, but something savory was on my list after all those m&ms. The traditional Hanukkah food is a food cooked in oil to serve as a symbol of the legend of the jar of oil that lasted for eight days. More on that can be found in the link on history of Hanukkah. There were so many wonderful recipes. Even more this year since Hanukkah is falling over Thanksgiving which has led to many amazing sounding recipes to celebrate Thanksgivukkah. By the way this is the first Thanksgivukkah since 1888 and it won't happen again for another 76,000 or so years. So for our latkes we did a slight Thanksgivukkah spin and made them with sweet potatoes and added a little cranberry to the apple sauce. If I hadn't been set on latkes, we would have done this recipe here. Not only did the pumpkin blintzes sound amazing but the wonderful blogger of Spontaneous Tomato was in fact the first friend to introduce me to Hanukkah, the menorah, and the dreidel when we were just a couple of kids. She also introduced me to the Marx brothers and The Hobbit so kind of an amazing person all around!
So we made simple yummy latkes and some crockpot applesauce with some cranberries thrown in to top off the latkes with.
- Sweet potato
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- salt and pepper to season
- vegetable oil
For the applesauce:
- 4 apples
- 1/4 cup sugar
- handful of cranberries
Baby supervised the shredding of the sweet potatoes.
Then we added an egg a tablespoon of flour and a 1/4 tsp of baking powder, and a little salt and pepper. Then we dropped in pancake size blobs into some vegetable oil and flipped when nice and golden brown.
For the apple sauce we cored, peeled, and sliced apples then added sugar and a handful of cranberries straight into the crockpot. Cooked on high heat for 2.5 hours and it was done. A yummy tart applesauce.
My oldest only liked the latkes, and the middle only ate the applesauce, but baby was a champ and ate it properly dipping the latkes into the sauce. We ate them up so fast I almost forgot to get a picture. So here it is the last lone latke before it was eaten up by me :)
I hope after all my missed posts this epic one makes up for the absence. My mom and then mother-in-law will be visiting us over the next month and a half so I should have lots of help in the crafting department so December shall be in full swing again! Happy Hanukkah!