Wednesday, December 5, 2007

If It Ain't Fried, It Aint Food

Last night was the first night of Hanukkah. Yup, that's the official spelling these days. Hanukkah. I have no problem with the other spelling: Chanukah. Yah. That one's good too.

Adam Sandler has a now famous Hanukkah song: Eight Crazy Nights, which is pretty darn funny, and you can watch the original version from Saturday Night Live just above by clicking the play button.

But, what the heck IS Hanukkah? It's actually quite a minor holiday in Judaism, where you don't even get a day off work. Of course, there's lots of food involved. The main way to remember what are traditional Hanukkah foods is a Southern mantra my friend Lisa says the best (in a very Southern, hick accent) "If It Ain't Fried, It Ain't Food." That's right; foods fried in oil are traditional for this holiday, mainly potato pancakes (also called latkes) and jelly doughnuts. Just about every year I get a Winchell's guy telling me, as I order a dozen jelly doughnuts: "I don't know what happened tonight, but everyone's going for the jelly doughnuts!". Yah, well, get a clue and get some marketing on.

There's the story about the Macabees, who were an underground rebel movement in Israel about 2200 years ago, or 200 BC, when the Greeks occupied that area. The Greeks destroyed the temple in Jerusalem, and did not allow religious freedom. King Antiochus is said to have replaced The Holy Arc with a statue of Zeuss. This totally pissed off the Jews, because we only believe in one God and do not worship idols or any human image of any kind. So, being the tough brood that we are, we kicked them to the curb and restored Jerusalem and the temple. That's when the "miracle" happened. There was only enough oil for the eternal light (which represents the eternal light of God and is always above The Arc in any temple you visit) for one day, but it lasted for eight days - and thus, we have eight days of Hanukkah.

Well, the story of the Macabees is true. But I'm not so sure about the oil miracle. I think it was definitely a miracle that a small resistance group beat out the Greeks, who pretty much owned everything back then. It took them about three years to do it, but it's still a miracle. But, looking at the holiday through more adult eyes, I have a theory. Sukkot is the last holiday we had back in October, and Sukkot is also eight days. Hmmm. My theory is that once the Jews rebuilt the temple, they celebrated the most recent holiday that had past - and that was Sukkot, and it lasted for eight days. I think that's pretty cool.

So, you might think about the oil/miracle story as sort of like a Santa story for the kids. Both versions are good. Now, I have to go now and figure out the Weight Watchers points for latkes with piles of sour cream and apple sauce on top...


Maija said...

Happy holiday, Tally!!

BloggingQueen said...

How about sweet potato latkes? Are those lower-calorie?

Oh, maybe not. We fry them bad boys too. Whoops.

Tally O said...

Love sweet potato latkes. You can also make mix regular potatoes and sweet potatoes, or mix zucchini with regular potatoes - oh, the possibilities!

Anonymous said...

Hey Tally! Let me tell you, those Macabbees kicked some butt! God was definitely on their side. I love the story behind Hanukkah. What a great reason to celebrate!