Soon it will be the first night of Chanukkah, the eight night long Jewish Festival of Lights. My husband, Mr. Rosenberg is Jewish. I have been a Rosenberg for almost a decade now but being raised Catholic, I am not really Jewish, merely a Jew-adjacent. However, in my fake Jew-ness I have learned a couple of things about this holiday.
No one really knows how to spell the name.
According to the Jewish internet, each of the following spellings are acceptable:
The "CH" at the front of the word CHanukkah did present a problem for my Spanish-speaking, English as a second language, Catholic daily mass going, Grandma Sophie. The year I was 12, she sent me what she thought was a Christmas card. On the front of the card was a lovely drawing of little girl lighting a menorah. "Happy Chanukkah to a sweet grandaughter," was printed inside. Looked like the word Christmas to her. Either way, I still got 10 bucks.
There are different pronunciations of the word Hanukkah.
Some just go with the "h" sound, others like to get some phlegm behind it. Comedian Alan Murray did a bit in his act years ago where he referred to "Chanukkah" as "Chewbacca." I have pronounced it Chewbacca ever since.
We celebrate with fried food.
The eight nights of HaukaaChannakkah celebrates the The Maccabees successful rebellion against Antiochus IV Epiphanes when the Temple was purified and the wicks of the menorah miraculously burned for eight days, even though there was only enough sacred oil for one day's lighting. This oil is represented by the frying of food in oil such as doughnuts or fried potato pancakes, called latkes, which are by all appearances flattened tater tots. And who doesn't love fried food? On Hanika we live by the old Southern saying, "If it ain't fried, it ain't done. Perhaps Southern Jews use this term as well or maybe it's just at our house.
A Menorah is a fancy nine-armed candelabra.
On each night of Hanuka/Hanikah, a number of candles are lit in the candleholder, called the menorah, corresponding to the number of the night of the holiday being celebrated. The middle candle, called the shamus, is the candle used to light the other candles, The candles are to be left burning until they snuff themselves out. Because most Hanika/Hanuka candles are not drip-less, a piece of paper towel, called piece of paper towel, is placed under the menorah so as not to get wax all over the table.
Dreidel is Jewish gambling.
The traditional Chanukah/Chanukkah/Hannuka game of Dreidel is played with a four-sided top (the dreidel) and foil wrapped chocolate coins (the gelt). Note: The only gelt I could find this year at our local Rite-Aid, has pictures of SpongeBob Square Pants on it and by most accounts, SpongeBob is a goy, or non-Jew. Just saying.
On each side of the top is a Hebrew letter representing the different game play.
G - Gimmel - The player Gets it all.
H - Hey - player collects Half of the pot.
S - Shin - The player Sets one of his own items into the pot.
N -Nun - (Or as my son refers to it, "Phone," because of Nun's resemblance to our cordless telephone receiver.) The player collects Nothing from the pot.
The game is played as follows:
Divide gelt equally among the players.
Every player contributes one piece of gelt into a central pile. This becomes the "pot."
Players spin the dreidel in turn and contribute or collect gelt from the pot based upon which letter faces up when the dreidel stops its spin.
The player who gains the most gelt wins.
At our house, if the winning player is not my son, there will be plenty of fake-Jew whining. It's really the lowest tech slot machine ever. This includes the slots at the Mobil station in Pahrump, Nevada.
Wishing you all a Happy Chewbacca, my friends. May you never land on Phone.