The Hebrew calendar determines when Hanukkah begins and ends each year. In 2020, Hanukkah runs from the evening of Dec. 10 to the evening of Dec. 18. Not at all Jewish Christmas, Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in the second century B.C. Here’s what you need to know about traditional Hanukkah activities and foods, and tips for traveling back home for the holiday.
Hanukkah’s most central ritual is the lighting of the eight candles on the menorah. According to Hebrew teaching, during the rededication of the Temple, the soldiers had what looked like enough oil to light one candle on the menorah for a single night. Instead, the oil lasted eight days. Hence the lighting of candles, an additional candle each night, across eight days. Blessings are read and songs sung during the menorah lighting. Additionally, prayers are recited throughout the day and lest we forget the spinning dreidel game.
Food for Hanukkah
Allow us to solve a holiday food mystery for you: Fried foods (think potato latkes) are common throughout the eight Hanukkah days because of how important oil was to the Hanukkah story. Along with potato latkes, sufganiyot, noodle kugel and knishes are also among some of the most popular Hanukkah dishes. For the ultimate cooking, season your latkes with a little schmaltz, the secret to great Jewish cooking.
Holiday travel tips
Celebrating Hanukkah with loved ones may require some peak-season travel. Regardless of when or where you fly, arrive early to the airport, survive TSA and please follow the unspoken airport etiquette rules. Pro holiday travel tips: think about flying out of a smaller airport and have a backup plan in case of a travel emergency.