Friday, December 22, 2006

Party time

Last night was Hannukah party time. This has become a favourite annual tradition, when we invite our neighbours over to celebrate Hannukah with us. Tevye reads the story of Hannukah to everyone, we light the candles, play dreidls for sweets, and eat latkes and salt beef (if we can get it, or slices of roast beef if we can't) followed by doughnuts. Then the children disappear to make noise while the adults sit around drinking tea, coffee or wine and engaging in (slightly) less noisy conversation. At the end all the children get "hannukah gelt" - chocolate money - except that last night I forgot to give it to them and nobody noticed!

Playing dreidl at Hannukah is a highlight for most Jewish children. As a child Tevye attended a children's synagogue where they always supplied a sack of monkey nuts to use as chips. We usually opt for Smarties (similar to chocolate M&Ms). A dreidl is a four sided spinning top, with a Hebrew letter on each side. To start, each player puts two sweets (or nuts, or whatever ...) into the pot. Then everyone takes turns to spin the dreidl and follow the instructions for whichever letter lands face up:

  • נ (Nun) - Do nothing
  • ג (Gimel) - Win everything in the pot
  • ה (Hay) - Win half the contents of the pot
  • ש (Shin) - Put two into the pot
After a gimel each player puts two sweets into the pot. The game continues until everyone is out of sweets (there tends to be a certain amount of attrition during play) or the players get bored.

I usually skip the dreidl playing to grate potatoes and fry latkes (you can find the recipe on my Cookbook blog). Every year I make more than the year before, and every year the bowl ends up empty.

Overheard yesterday afternoon:

Star: It's Hannukah tonight
A-next-door: Hannukah! I love Hannukah!
Star: That's weird. You're not even a bit Jewish ...


Romany said...

Sounds like a lovely evening, Kathryn!

You don't have to be Jewish to love Latkes either!{g} Where we lived in Canada, they were so popular you could buy them ready made, though they didn't taste as good as home-made. They were traditionally served there with apple sauce. Is that how you have them?

I obviously have not had enough breakfast yet, as I am drooling at your photo!


The Bookworm said...

Yes, I have them with apple sauce. Dh has them with sugar. The girls have them either plain or with ketchup!

Alice Gunther said...

Oh, how I love latkes!

And my girls are big fans of the dreidl too!

I hope your family had a wonderful Hannukah! (It looks as if you did!)