“Hanukkah” in the Air Tonight – “Festival of Light” – Tradition – Story – Food @ 2020

Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday, often referred to as the “Festival of Lights.”

Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days and nights.

The Hebrew calendar determines when Hanukkah begins and ends each year, which is based on the lunar cycle and the seasons. It was created in ancient times based on observations of the appearance of the crescent moon. This means that the dates of holidays vary from year to year based not on the Gregorian calendar but on the phases of the moon (which last 29.5 days). Some years are longer or shorter than others, but instead of adding a leap day every four years, the Hebrew calendar adds a full lunar month to seven out of every 19 years. The Chinese calendar is also calculated based on a combination of the movement of the moon and the sun. Following the lunar cycle just as in the Jewish calendar.

In 2020 Hanukkah runs from the evening of December, 10 to the last candle lighting evening of Dec. 18.

Not at all Jewish Xmas, Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in the second century B.C. The Hanukkah story is based on historical events that took place in 165 BCE in Jerusalem. After the Second Temple in Jerusalem was desecrated by the Seleucid Emperor Antiochus IV and his Greco-Syrian troops, Jewish priest Mattathias and his sons rebelled. Retaking Jerusalem and the Temple, they lit the holy lamp (the menorah) but had only enough oil for one night. Miraculously, the lamp stayed lit for eight days until enough holy oil could be procured.

Hanukkah is a minor Jewish holiday and it became a more significant holiday in the western world because of its proximity to Xmas and the desire among more secular Jews to participate in the cultural build-up to the winter solstice. Also as a result, gift-giving became more popular in the west than in other parts of the world. While the traditions of Hanukkah are similar around the world, each country has its own unique twist.

Hanukkah means “Dedication” and also called Feast of Dedication, Festival of Lights, aka Feast of the Maccabees, or Jewish festival that begins on Kislev 25 (in December, according to the Gregorian calendar) and is celebrated for eight days. Hanukkah reaffirms the ideals of Judaism and commemorates in particular the rededication of the Second Temple of Jerusalem by the lighting of candles as the sun goes down on each day of the festival.

All over the world, candlelight celebrations are celebrated in some form. Let’s visit some parts of the World, what and how they are celebrating …

In parts of France, for example, families light a double-decker (16-candle) menorah, while in Morocco fried treats are made with fruit juice and orange zest.

Butter sculpture – Buddhist New Year’s custom. It is also a Tibetan custom for Buddhist monks to carve meticulously made statues of yak butter at New Year’s Eve, bringing to life a different story and teaching tale each year. The statues sometimes reach a height of 10 meters and are illuminated by special butter lamps. The most successful sculptures will receive an award.

Solstice in Scotland: The Feast of Solstice is held on the eve of the shortest day of the year. In the first millennium of our time, the ancestors of the Scots today, the Druids, celebrated the God of the Sun at solstice, rejoicing that it would then return and become stronger again. The customs still live today in Vikkan traditions, in English-speaking areas, and in various variations in other parts of the world. A large block of wood — the Column of Julias — is set up in the middle of a clearing and set on fire. Everyone then dances around the fire. It is said that the more noise they make, the better, because it awakens the god of the sun and thus the process of revival.

Night of Hikes – Mexico:  An unusual ceremony takes place in Oaxaca, Mexico on December 23 each year. It began in the middle of the last century when the Spaniards brought the first radish to Mexico. In Oaxaca, they grow very large, but due to the stony soil, they turn into all sorts of strange, twisted shapes. Local folk artists then carve all sorts of interesting things out of these, scenes from the Bible, and local Aztec legends. Cash prizes will be won by the best sculptors and the evening will end with a dazzling fireworks display.

Befana – Italy: “Bifana” – a friendly witch, flies down the chimneys on a broom to place presents in the hanged stockings. Legend has it that Bifana was just sweeping when the Three Kings knocked on him. They offered to take it with them, but he said he didn’t have time. He changed his mind later, but it was too late. That’s why he still goes into every house at Christmas and leaves gifts everywhere.

China New Year: It begins on the first day of the New Moon and ends fifteen days later, at full moon. The fifteenth day is called the Lampion Festival, the celebration begins after sunset when lanterns are lit all over and people march through the streets with lanterns hanging on their sticks in their hands.

The Chinese calendar is calculated following the lunar cycle just as in the Jewish calendar. It is about 29.5 days long. To correct the shift, the Chinese occasionally insert an extra year into the calendar, a total of seven times during a 19-year cycle. This is the same as the way we do an extra day  a.k.a. leap year every four years at the end of February. However, this is the reason why according to the day-based calendar, Chinese New Year always falls on a different date.

Dozmocse – Celebration of the Dying Year in Tibet: The center of the five-day celebration is a column adorned with stars and other decorations made of colored yarn. Dancers wearing scary masks bounce around to scare away bad spirits for years to come. The next few days will be filled with daring and prayers, and as a finale, the people will knock down the pillar together and take apart the decorations.

One of the cakes connected to Hanukkah is the Sufganiyot which are deep-fried jelly doughnuts. These delicious dessert treats are made with yeast and must be allowed to rise. They’re often topped with confectioners sugar and/or in-and-out-side with home-made apricot jam. Yeast is allowed in foods year-round except during the Passover holiday when Jews eat unleavened bread in commemoration of their flight from Egypt (as described in the Old Testament).

Receipt … Sufganiyot which are deep-fried jelly doughnut

Overall time from preparation to consumption: 1 hour 45 minutes

Ingredients for 20 piece of donuts: 2.5 dl milk, 30 g yeast, 1 month + 50 g powdered sugar, 500 g fine flour, salt, 6 egg yolks, 60 g soft butter / margarine, frying oil
vanilla powdered sugar for sprinkling

Preparation: Lighten the milk, mix in 1 dl of yeast and 1 tbs. icing sugar. Sift the flour into a bowl, make a recess in the middle, pour in the yeast milk, mix a little flour from the edges, then cover with a kitchen towel and let it double, i.e. make sourdough (15 minutes). In the remaining 1.5 dl of lukewarm milk, mix the remaining 50 g of icing sugar, 1 pinch of salt and egg yolks, then add to the flour and work together with a wooden spoon. Knead the butter / margarine in 2-3 portions, cover and double-boil in a warm place (30 minutes). Knead the dough on a floured worktop, flatten and flatten with a floury palm, and puncture with a 6-8 cm diameter cake tongue (or glass) dipped in flour (knead the falling parts without flour, re-tear). The discs are stacked at a distance of 5 cm on a floured tray or board, the tops are lightly smeared with oil (so as not to crust), then covered loosely first with folpack and then with a kitchen towel and doubled again. Pour 2-3 fingers of oil into a medium-sized pan (25-28 cm in diameter) and heat it – it should not be smoky-hot, because the outside of the donut will blush too soon, but it is feared that the middle will remain semi-raw! Press the center of the dough discs with your thumb and place them in the oil with the half that was on top (about 4-5 pieces because they will grow during baking). Cover the legs (this will make them “ribbon”), bake the donuts on a moderate heat for 4-5 minutes, then turn them over with a sieve spoon and bake them until golden brown without a lid. Soak up the excess oil on a paper towel, arrange on a preheated bowl, sprinkle with vanilla powdered sugar and serve freshly hot. Home-made apricot jam in-and-outside of the donutsnare just heavenly. Also may have them aside and in a separate bowl.

© Aggie Reiter

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