Chanukah is a joyous celebration of Jewish national survival and religious freedom. During Chanukah, many families invite relatives and friends over to light the menorah, sing songs, play dreidel, exchange gifts and enjoy traditional Chanukah food, especially latkes (potato pancakes).
Lighting the eight candles in the menorah commemorates the miracle of light, representing how the Holy Temple had enough oil in the menorah for just one night, yet it remained lit for eight nights. Thus, oil is a key element in the Chanukah celebration and plays a large role in cooking the traditional foods.
Fried potato pancakes, called latkes in Yiddish and levivot in Hebrew, are the most popular Chanukah food. They are shredded potatoes mixed with onion, egg, flour and seasonings, then formed into small pancakes and fried in oil. The crispy latkes are served with sour cream and applesauce on the side.
Another fried-in-oil delicacy for Chanukah is the deep-fried, jelly-filled donuts, called sufganiot, which are traditionally enjoyed during Chanukah in Israel and loved by children all over the globe.