Chanukah is celebrated with a nightly menorah lighting, but wait a minute, how do you spell it?
There is no “wrong” way to spell it. You may have seen the holiday spelled like Hanukkah, Hannuka, or Chanukah… the list goes on. Because there is no correct way to directly translate the Hebrew sounds to English, it could be spelled a variety of different ways, each equally correct.
Known as the Festival of Lights, Chanukah is a time when friends and family gather to rejoice, celebrate and enjoy an assortment of traditional foods – often fried because they’re reminders of the oil in the legendary Chanukah story. From hearty potato latkes to sweet, fluffy doughnuts, Chanukah is not a time to watch the waistline.
Ever wondered what’s the deal with chocolate coins?
Since the 17th century, giving money (gelt) on Hanukkah has been a tradition. Over time, this evolved to chocolate gelt wrapped in gold or silver foil and enjoyed by small and big kids all over the world. They also make a great alternative to money when playing dreidel.
The famous dreidel, or four-sided spinning top, was invented as a distraction. The Greek-Syrians had outlawed Jewish studies, so the Jews spun dreidels to pretend they were merely playing games while they engaged with Torah study. Dreidel is a gambling game where, after you ante up, the letter that comes up when you spin the top tells you what to do: take the whole pot, take half the pot, do nothing, or ante up again.
The Hebrew characters on the dreidel’s four faces—nun (נ), gimel (ג), hey (ה), and shin (ש) — an acronym for the Hebrew saying Nes Gadol Hayah Sham, which can be translated to “a great miracle happened there,” referring to the miracle which Hanukkah is centered around – were the initial letters of the four rules of the game in Yiddish: nisht, “take nothing”; gantz, “take all”; halb, “take half”; and shtel, “add one.”