Tuesday, December 04, 2007

On the First Night of Hanukkah...

Tonite is the magical 8-day festival of lights: Hanukkah! It celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple at the time of the Maccabee rebellion. The festival is observed by the kindling of lights on each night of the holiday: one on the first night, two on the second, and so on. Here in the USA it is also celebrated by the buying of copious amounts of gifts. But as Mom is not American and never experienced this as a child in South Africa - she doesn't "buy into that shit" to quote her direct. Sure, Dad got a gift (he basically pleaded with Mom to buy him a watch with a built in compass - Mom gave in thinking it would help Dad not get lost so much). So far, I have had one gift - a big furry rat toy from Dad (So far it is still in tact. I am giving myself 8 days to get the squeaker) and of course, the lovely gifts from Miss Amelia.

Hanukkah is Mom's favorite Jewish holiday and I like it too. I especially like latkes. So before we go on, I am going to don my apron and teach you all how to make latkes - pieces of potato fried in oil and topped with either sugar/cinnamon (South Africa) or sour cream and apple sauce (USA). FYI - in Israel, where Mom spent 6.5 years of her life before meeting Dad and Me, they also eat lots and lots of donuts, known as sufganiyot during the holiday.

So with apologies to Rachel Ray...

Step 1: Peel the potatoes

Step 2: Grate the potatoes - you can use a food processor but doing it on a tiny grater has better effect says Mom...watch those fingers/paws everyone..

Step 3: Grate onion (try do it with your eyes closed as Mom started to weep half way through...)

Step 4: Beat 2 eggs and mix with some flour and baking powder

Step 5: In true Chanukah spirit, drench a pan in oil and add latke mixture.

Step 6: When browned, remove latkes and place on paper towel to absorb all the oil.

Step 7: Transfer latkes to a pretty plate and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar - that's how Mom likes it. Dad prefers the sour cream/apple sauce but Mom forgot to buy any!

Here is a picture of me from 2005 enjoying my very first latke. Boy I was thin in those heedy days:

I am really looking forward to going to Asta's holiday party on Dec. 6. Me and the Barkalot Boys Jake and Harry, being of the Jewish persuasion, will be bringing our latkes, donuts, dreidls (spinning tops) and Hanukkah music along to share our holiday spirit!

Dreidls (pictured right) are a big part of Hanukkah, and playing the Dreidl game is so much fun, it's even better than poker. Dreidl is a spinning top in Yiddish. They are known as a sivivon in Hebrew. Players use pennies, nuts, raisins, or chocolate coins (gelt) as tokens or chips. When us canines play, we will use pennies, Pupperoni, Milkbones, Wellness Wellbars, Natural Balance mini-logs and other delectable treats. Here is how it works:

Every dreidl has 4 symbols on it as it's a 4-sided top. These are letters of the Hebrew alphabet:

These letters mean "A Great Miracle Happened There". In Israel the dreidel is a bit different in that their letters mean " A Miracle Happened HERE!" The player spins the dreidel. When the dreidel stops, the letter that is facing up decides the fate.
NUN - nothing happens - next player spins the dreidel
GIMEL - player takes all tokens in the pot
HEY - player takes half of the pot
SHIN - player must put one token into the pot

See, its very easy. The challenge dear friends will be spinning the damn thing using our paws! Maybe we can just toss it in the air instead?
Or, we can do what George the Boxer does:

There are many wonderful songs associated with Hanukkah - I have two favorites, "Oh Hanukkah!" and "The Dreidl Song". The words of the first song capture the spirit of the holiday:

Chanuka, oh Chanuka

Chanuka, Oh Chanuka, come light the Menorah
Let's have a party, we'll all dance the hora
Gather round the table, we'll all have a treat
Sivivon to play with, and latkes to eat.
And while we are playing
The candles are burning bright
One for each night, they shed a sweet light
To remind us of days long ago.
One for each night, they shed a sweet light
To remind us of days long ago.

To hear the tune, you can watch this movie I found on Youtube of little kids giving it a go - sing along, it's good practice for our party on Friday.

And while we play the Dreidl game we will sing The Dreidl Song:

I Have a Little Dreidel
I have a little dreidel
I made it out of clay
And when it's dry and ready
Then dreidel I shall play!

(Chorus)Oh dreidel, dreidel, dreidel
I made it out of clay
And when it's dry and ready
Then dreidel I shall play!

It has a lovely body
With legs so short and thin
And when my dreidel's tired
It drops and then I win!


My dreidel's always playful
It loves to dance and spin
A happy game of dreidel
Come play now, let's begin!

Here you can see some cute kindergarten kids at their holiday concert singing the song. Sing along everyone!




Lenny said...

Hey, thanks for the recipe, Axel! I've never tried the cinnamon kind of latkes - that sounds good! Happy Hanukkah! I'll study and practice the songs for Asta's party.

Your friend, Lenny

Jake of Florida said...


You outdid yourself!!! We were going to do a Chanukah blog -- but when we saw yours, we decided the best thing to do would be to send everybody to visit you. It's perfect!!! We will add our best Chanukah photos -- but you have captured the whol spirit!!

And we are so excited at all the responses to the petition. We'll add the link to the TV video.

Happy Chanukah, pal.

Jake and Just Harry

Agatha and Archie said...

Hey Ax!! Don't forget us!!! We will be singing Chanukah oy chanukah come light the menorah right with you and the boys!!!PL2 cheated tonight and bought latkes and sufganyot and it was YUMMY!!!!!!!! Chag Sameach!! Love A+A

Gus said...

mmmm- I like them best with applesauce myself. Skip the sour cream. I must try the cimananon ones next time muzzer makes them. Funny - we eat them during what muzzer calls "lent" also a period building up to a celebration.

happy holiday

Dean-O! said...

What! No Hanukah GELT???

You need the busfare to come & visit me & see my snow. It has been coming down for 2 days & boy is it deep. Way past my armpits...it would be right over my head if I stopped bouncing.

PS - bring latkes':¬}

Scruffy & Lacie said...

Axel, Axel...what a wonderful post you made on Chanukah...we love blogging and learning about all faiths and customs!! You taught us a lot!!! The latkes sound soooo yummy. Mumsie's dad used to make potato pancakes when she was a kid. Wonder how similar they are? We can't wait for Asta's holiday party....we'll memorize the words to your songs so we can sing along. Scruffy's already learning them on the piano. He's gonna help Asta play!

Toasty warm Lakie barks...Lacie

T & C said...

Axel....that's the same way our mom makes latkes. She's not going to make them 'til Saturday when our human sister Robin comes home. It's torture 'cause mom won't let us have any and we just get to smell them. Not very nice of her at all. We'll find a way to get her back for that...probably on the carpeting somewhere.

Have fun but don't eat the gelt. That stuff is poison. We're hoping maybe mom will at least go get us gifts; maybe stuffed dreidels.

Your friends,

Terri and Chewy

Ricky Pepper said...

Happy Hanukkah (Chanukah?)! Which is the better way to spell?
Thanks for the recipe Axel Batali! Mommy would love to have them with sour cream and I would eat them with anything on them, or nothing! Mommy played the flute in middle school and she remembers playing the dreidel song. What a lovely post!
Ricky Pepper

Ricky Pepper said...

Pee-ess...please congratulate me for recently deciding that any appliance that is not plugged into the wall is free game for chewing off the delectable little plug at the end. One lamp down, one Spot Bot down, plenty more appliances to go!
Ricky Bad Boy

Christaligia said...

Happy Hanukkah!! And my mom's mouth is watering. She loves latkes.

Ricky Pepper said...

Ok, we'll settle on Hanukkah since your mom likes it and we think it looks more ethnic spelled this way. Happy Hanukkah!
Mom said she's sorry, but she only knows how to sign the petitions. We will look on the site and see if there is a FAQ center...

Ricky Pepper said...

Pee Pee Ess - daddy mailed your package Monday because mommy had a terrible cold over the end of last week and weekend...so it should be there soon! We hope it doesn't suffer the same fate as your dreidel decoration, heh.

Xsara ... said...

Happy holidays!

Katie said...

We love latkes, only we have only had them as a very special treat. You did a great job on your post.

Jackson said...

Hey Axel, that recipe looks so easy that even J1 could do it, hehehe! Thanks for all the info and song clips, they're pawsome! J x

Stanley said...

Happy CHanukah, Axel!

Big Chanukah smooches to you and your parents (especially your mama ~ does she miss home on this holiday?)

Thanks for the latke recipe. We'll have to try it. And, thanks for bringing those songs with you to Asta's party. I love that music!

Goober love,

I LOVE YOU said...