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Hanukkah: the festival of lights

by Miss Heather | Dec 05, 2015
In the United States, Thanksgiving often blends right into Christmas. Somewhere between those two holidays is a lesser mentioned celebration that lasts 8 days: Hanukkah. The date of this Jewish holiday is established by the Hebrew calendar which is a bit different from ours. The first night can be as early as November and the last night can fall as late as January! This year Hanukkah begins at sundown on Sunday, December 6th. One candle on a menorah is lit each of the eight nights using a ninth candle called the shamash candle. The holiday is a remembrance of the time more than 2,000 years ago when a group called the Maccabees took back the temple after fighting the Syrian-Greek army for religious freedom. A celebration lasting for 8 days including the burning of an oil lantern. They later discovered that there had only been enough oil to last one day! What a miracle!
There are fun games played using a dreidel (a kind of top) and gelt (money)--in the form of real or chocolate coins or other gifts--is often given each of the eight nights. Some of the traditional food served includes latkes (potato pancakes) and Sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts).
Would you like to learn more about Hanukkah? Here are three fun picture books that are set during Hanukkah. There is a bit of history about the holiday in the back of each book.
 Sara learns about the Jewish tradition of tzedakah (helping the poor or needy) when she shares food with a hungry stranger.  On the eighth night of Hanukkah, a family rescues a Yiddish-speaking, dreidel-playing parakeet. The marvelous mystery of how this parakeet learned Yiddish in unraveled.
On the first night of Hanukkah, Old Bear wanders into Bubba Brayna's house and receives a delicious helping of potato latkes when she mistakes him for the rabbi. Includes a recipe for latkes.

heather Miss Heather is the Children's Librarian at Shawnee Branch. She likes to bead while listening to audiobooks. She also watches a bit too many tv shows when she should be reading. Her dog, Pookah, is her only "son" and is her shadow wherever she goes.

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