Whether you spell it Hanukkah or Chanukah, there's no arguing that today marks the first of 8 full days of the Jewish Festival of Lights. This age-old tradition honors the rededication of the Holy Temple in 2nd Century Jerusalem by the Jewish people, and while many of the traditions have remained the same over the centuries, there are many practices that have been modernized for the subsequent generations, much like that of Christmas or Passover. Whether you're new to Hanukkah's festivities or simply looking for fresh ideas for celebrating the ancient holiday, Celebrations has what you need to have a great eight-day celebration.
Probably the most popular and well-known Hanukkah dish is the latke, a thin, crisp potato pancake, the oil used to heat latkes is symbolic of the miraculous, long-lasting oil that lit the Second Temple in ancient Israel. Rich in history and flavor, latkes are one tasty tradition. Celebrations contributor Mindy Korbin prepares her latkes with a traditional side gravlax, but adds a bit of upscale flare by topping the pancakes with créme frache and caviar. The row in this recipe adds a sophisticated flare, while complimenting the gravlax and the crisp texture of the latkes. Check out Mindy's recipe here for a festive, five-star Hanukkah meal.
If you plan to throw a Hanukkah party this year you might give some though to what kind of décor you want have and whether or not you want to have a theme to your father or if you want to keep things small, intimate and on the simpler side of things. When it comes to party décor a little goes a long way, but don't be afraid to go all out, your effort will show and your guests will appreciate it. Considering dusting off family heirlooms for a traditional party or upgrade to modern pieces like this Contemporary Menorah from Judiaca. Celebrations expert Jeanne Benedict also has guide to updating your Hanukkah décor with her Modern Menorah Ideas that combine cleverness and craftiness to create menorahs.
In addition to the savory latkes and salty fish, there is a sweet side to this Festival of Lights. No, I'm not talking about gelt, but rather these plump pastries known as sufganiyot, a word derived from the Hebrew word for sponge. This deep-fried dessert is a lot like an a jelly donut or a Berliner, and are traditionally eaten warm with powdered sugar on top. Check out Nina Spezzaferro's recipe for Sufganiyot-Plump Chanukah Fried Doughnuts, and have yourself one sweet Hanukkah!
For those of who are new celebrating Hanukkah or need a refresher, Celebrations editor Melissa Klein has put together this helpful Hanukkah Guide for Gentiles. A crash course on customs and proper etiquette for throwing or attending a traditional Hanukkah gathering, this guide is must-read for gentile guests and hosts alike.