Yesterday marked the beginning of the Jewish holiday Chanukah, and I thought that, even though I hate all winter holidays, this would be the perfect time to declare myself the de facto expert on all things Jewish, and provide you with your essential guide to Chanukah:
What does the holiday of Chanukah celebrate?
A small group of Jews, known as the “Maccabees”, completely destroyed the stereotype of Jewish men as nerdy and frail as they kicked the ass of an invading Greek army. This beat-down, combined with a magical candle that burned for eight days and nights, inspired this holiday.
Why is it called Chanukah?
The very first celebration of Chanukah took place at the home of the Holy Land’s most famous celebrity couple, Chandler and Rebekah. The couple acted as one, and everyone referred to them as their combined celebrity name, Chanukah.
How do I pronounce Chanukah?
Because of the Hebrew alphabet, letters can be pronounced quite differently. The “Cha” is pronounced more like “kwa”. “Nu” is pronounced “n”, and “kah” is pronounced “zaa.”
Can I spell it Hanukkah?
Sure. It’s important to keep the Han in Hanukkah.
Why does the date of Chanukah change every year?
Somehow, even though it’s a well-known fact among idiots and bigots that the Jews control all media, the Jewish people were never able to wrest control of all calendar-related media from the Romans, who are now known as Hallmarkians. As a result, Chanukah falls on the 25th day of Kislev, according to the Jewish calendar.
How do I celebrate Chanukah?
Besides the sequential lighting of the menorah each night until the eighth night when all eight candles and an attendant candle has been lit, Chanukah focuses on food. Every Jewish family owns at least one deep-fat fryer, and it is customary to take any kosher foods and coat them in delicious batter and then deep fry them in oil until they’re delicious fried food and then eat the delicious fried food until you can’t move and have to be rolled into bed by the children while they sing the dreidel song.
Do I have to give gifts on Chanukah?
The original custom is centered around giving “gelt”. In recent times, “gelt” has signified money and Chanukah gifts are typically monetary in nature. However, originally, “gelt” was a bastardization of “guilt”, and the earliest Chanukahs involved Jewish mothers sitting their children down and, just like Festivus, airing their grievances, heaping helping after helping of guilt onto their children’s shoulders. In 2008, though, the definition of “gelt” shifted further and now means “anything made by Apple”.
Is there any significance to the blue and white Chanukah candles?
Yes. The original Chanukah colors were red and green after the color of the crests on the shields used by the Maccabees. However, the German-born Kris Kringle filed for trademark infringement, claiming that Christmas was already identified by red and green. The courts ruled in Kringle’s favor, and the Jews were forced to flee from the red and green color scheme, an event that is now referred to as KrisKringlenacht. Fucking Germans.
Can I do normal activities while my Chanukah lights are lit?
For the first half hour that the lights are lit, women should not cook or clean or perform any work-related chores. Men shouldn’t wear dresses or dance around on one foot while singing showtunes. It can be difficult at times to comply with these restrictions, but in order to fully celebrate the holiday, it’s essential to have the necessary discipline.
I really want a hot dog. Can I eat one?
Of course! Just make sure it’s all-beef and kosher. And we call them hot d-gs.
Happy Chanukah, everyone!
Originally published in December 2010. Revised and republished.