“Hanukkah is early this year”…do you ever hear people say that? Well actually it is. Here is why. The Hebrew calendar is much different from the secular calendar. While the secular (also referred to as Gregorian) calendar is based on the earth’s rotation around the sun, the Hebrew calendar calculates months according to the moon and years according to the sun.
Each new Jewish month begins and ends with the appearance of the new moon. Months of the Hebrew calendar are: Nisan, Iyar, Sivan, Tammuz, Av, Elul, Tishrei, Cheshvan, Kislev, Tevet, Shevat, Adar. The 12 months of the Jewish calendar contain 354 days. The shortfall of 11 days from the 365 secular calendar days is made up by adding a thirteenth month every few years. Seven out of every nineteen years (years 3, 6, 8, 11, 14, 17 and 19) have an added month. The added month is called Adar Bet. The Jewish leap year ensures that the holidays occur during the same season each year (High Holidays in the autumn, Chanukah in the winter, Purim and Passover in the Spring.)
Hanukkah is celebrated for 8 days and nights, starting on the 25th of Kislev. In Hebrew, the word “hanukkah” means “dedication.” The name reminds us that this holiday commemorates the rededication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem following the Jewish victory over the Syrian-Greeks in 165 B.C.E.
Every community has its unique Hanukkah traditions, but there are some traditions that are almost universally practiced. They are: lighting the hanukkiah, spinning the dreidel and eating fried foods. It is customary to light the candles of the hanukkiah to commemorate the miracle of the oil. A popular game played during Hanukkah is Dreidel, which is a 4-sided top with Hebrew Letters that stand for Nes Gadol Haya Sha or ‘A Great Miracle Happened There.’
Because Hannukah celebrates the miracle of the oil, it is also tradition to eat foods fried in oil during Hanukkah, such as latkes and sufganiyot (like donuts) during the holiday. It seems like during Hanukkah, there are at least 5 different occasions where I need to whip up another batch of potato latkes. Here is a really quick and easy recipe that I adapted thanks to Costco’s Premium Hashbrown Potatoes. They are delicious and the proof is when my whole family screams, more gluten free latkes please!
Gluten Free Potato Latkes
2 boxes of Premium Hashbrown Potatoes (found at Costco)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
½ cup medium sweet onion
3 T Bob’s Red Mill GF flour
Follow directions on the box of potatoes by adding hot water to line and let stand for 10 minutes.
Add onions and egg to potatoes.
In a small bowl combined salt, baking powder and flour.
Add this to the potato mixture.
Heat a skillet with olive oil, enough to cover the surface.
Add one generous scoop of the potato mixture into hot oil and brown on both sides. Repeat with rest of the mixture.
Serve immediately or store in the fridge and warm in the oven when ready to eat.
Note: these can be made vegan by using a vegan egg substitute.