First night of Chanuka, and as my parental units did not want to worry about me driving in the GTA's current weather, I stayed home. We said the blessing over the lighting of the candles together over the phone. I also made lazy daisy latkes-from-a-box. (See little photo above?) Delicious!
As for explaining Chanuka, I'll let my copy of Jewish Literacy by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin take it away:
In 167 B.C.E., the Syrian emperor Antiochus set out to destroy Judaism by making its observance a capital offense... A Jew named Mattathias, along with his five sons, initiated a revolt against the Syrian monarch. Three years later, the rebels ousted Antiochus's troops from Palestine.
The Jewish revolutionaries, known as Maccabees or Hasmoneans, regained control of the Temple in Jerusalem, which during the years of Syrian control had been spiritually raped. Antiochus had even arranged for swine to be sacrificed in the Temple. The Jewish troops wept when the saw the Temple's degradation, and immediately resolved to restore it to a state of ritual purity. According to Jewish tradition, they could find only one cruse of uncontaminated olive oil; unfortunately, it contained oil sufficient for only one day. The Jews were very upset because it would take eight days to prepare ritually permitted oil. However, a miracle happened and the small quantity of oil continued to burn the full eight days.
Now we celebrate with fried foods, specifically latkes and soufganiot. Although, if you wanted to add churros and veggie dumplings and rosti to your tradition, I'd be the last to criticize.
Here's my gathering of Chanuka recipes. An unofficial carnival of sorts (since I can't find an actual Chanuka blog carnival to direct you to):
Food Touring from Austin shares Sweet Potato Curry Latkes
Marcy Goldman makes her own version of lazy daisy latkes using a mix & potatoes.
Bureka Boy didn't make latkes, he made Sephardi fritters called Bimuelos. I'm Sephardi and while I'm pretty sure I've eaten those, I've never heard them called bimuelos. Then again, my parents speak Judeo-Arabic, not Ladino. (And as a bonus, his preceding post has a madeleine recipe, which I've been looking for.)
Epicurious taps chef Paul Virant for a simple but good-lookin' latke recipe. The comments on that post are sweet too.
Happy Holidays! Eat! Eat!