Saturday, December 8, 2007

Hanukkah, or is it Chanukkah?

Tonight is the 5th night of Hanukkah. Starting on December 4, the 8 day Festival of Lights began early this year. Well, not really; it begins every year on the 25th of Kislev on the Jewish Calendar which is a lunar calendar. That is why it seems that Jewish holidays change every year. A full story of Hanukkah can be found here.

There are also different transliterated spellings of the holidays name; thus the title of this posting. Hanukkah and Chanukkah are the most usual ways we see it spelled in English, depending on who is trying to write the Hebrew word in our alphabet. I won't try to explain the pronunciation of "ch" here. If you haven't learned Hebrew or a guttural language, it comes out as a "k" or "h" sound depending on the word, but neither comes close to the true "sounds-like-clearing-your-throat" sound of the "ch."

Many see Chanukkah and Christmas as being related because they fall roughly at the same time and involve gift giving. But when I was young, there were no gifts given on Hanukkah, other than some "gelt," a small amount of money given to the children. Don't worry, I was not deprived of gifts as a child. My parents simply gave them to me on Christmas, "observing" the secular, commercial nature of the celebration in this country.

In our house, Donna takes great pride in decorating for the holiday. Below are pictures taken outside the house of some decorations and a lit Star-of-David which sits in a front window.

The inside of the house is decorated too! Much of Donna's Hannukiah collection (Hanukkah menorahs) is displayed on the hearth in front of the fireplace.

And the coffee table has another Hannukiah and lost of dreidels (a top like toy).

The family room counter also is well decorated this year.

And one last photo, that of the dining room table, taken just before friends in our Havurah arrived for the annual Hanukkah party on Thursday evening.

So there you have the visual presentation of Hanukkah in our house. And the food was wonderful too! I tried to keep my cardiologist happy by avoiding the traditional potato latkes, sneaking only 2 during the meal and using apple sauce instead of sour cream as the garnish. But to no avail, just looking and thinking about them led to a 2 pound weight gain overnight.

As this holiday season progresses, I wish a Happy Chanukkah to all. And may the coming year be one of peace and good health. Gut Yom Tov!


Josie Two Shoes said...

As one not raised around anyone who celebrates these traditions, this was a fun and interesting post... your house looks lovely with all the decorations, and I would have loved to attend that dinner, I'm sure I would have gained more than two pounds!! :-)

Eric Valentine said...

Thank you Leon for sharing that with us.
I too find it very interesting when I observe something that is of a different tradition to me.

I wondered though, was there any significance to the twelve place settings?

Great post and beautiful pictures. :)

Leon said...

Thank you Josie! I too would have gained more weight that night were it not for an admonition from my cardiologist earlier in the week. :-)

Leon said...

Thanks Eric. But you do have an eye for detail, don't you? The significance of the 12 place settings is that (including Donna and me) 6 couples were attending the party. :-)

Eric Valentine said...

hahaha Leon, well I guess I asked for that one. LOL

I just wondered because of the time of year, but then you knew that was what I meant anyway, didn't you? hahaha Good one Leon :)