Holiday Questions ~ Esther Shchory

I live in Israel where Christmas is only celebrated by a small minority and Hanukkah is not a major celebration (we don’t even get a holiday from work)
However I was brought up in England experiencing Christmas for almost 2 decades.

1. Favorite Holiday Song & Movie?
There are no Hanukkah Movies.
Favourites Hanukkah songs:
Yamei HaHanukkah (The Days of Hanukkah)
Mi Y’Malel (Who can retell the things that befell us?) which is best when sung in the round.

Favourites Christmas movies:
Holiday Inn
White Christmas
Which would have to make White Christmas my favourite Christmas song.
However I actually prefer carols my favourite being The Coventry Carol with Carol of the Bells a close second and The Zither Carol is great fun to sing.

2. Favorite Holiday Family Tradition?
On Hanukkah it is traditional that after lighting the candles every night the women of the house should sit down and rest for half an hour, taking a break from all work and chores.
It is to commemorate the strength and bravery shown by Hannah Maccabee.

3. Favorite Holiday Food? Who makes it the best?
Doughnuts and latkes are traditional Hanukkah foods.
Israeli doughnut are heavy, bready confections that could easily be used as substitute ammunition for heavy artillery.
However the Jews of North African descent make a version called Sfinge which is basically deep fried bread dough and it is delicious.
Latkes tend not to be sold commercially and I am hopeless at making them. Luckily my father-in-law is not.

I like most of the traditional English Christmas foods but Roast Goose on a cold day is particularly delicious especially when accompanied by my favourite vegetable – the brussel sprout. My grandmother was best at roasts but my mother and I also do a pretty decent job.

4. Which of Santa’s Reindeers best describes you? Why?
Santa’s Reindeers weren’t such a big thing England and I only learnt they had names from American Christmas movies.
That said I’m probably Rudolf because despite my best efforts I always seem to stand out from the crowd and get into trouble.

5. Do you decorate your house or office for the holidays? Is it religious decorated, secular or a mix of both?
Despite the American Hanukkah Bush there is actually only one traditional Hanukkah decoration – The lighted Menorah in the window.
We don’t have an electrical menorah that stays alight all day and we don’t have a place to put our menorah at the window but we do light the candles on at least one menorah every night of the holiday.
We normally light the candles at least once during the holiday at the office but normally at the wrong time (so it is merely symbolic) because by sunset most people have left to go home.
When we light the candles we recite the (religious) blessing and sing a couple of songs.

6. Favorite Holiday Book(s)/Reading
I don’t read seasonally. Any free time to read is a celebration for me.

7. This or That ~ Hot Chocolate or Egg Nog? Turkey or Ham? Religious or Secular? Santa or Frosty? Hot Toddy or Hot Cider?
Hot Chocolate or Egg Nog? I’ve never tasted Egg Nog
Turkey or Ham? Turkey for obvious reasons but I do love Roast Turkey
Religious or Secular? Religious
Santa or Frosty? In England with have Father Christmas and the Snowman. Have you ever read/seen The Snowman? It is beautiful.
(In fact the same author also wrote a ,slightly more humourous, book about Father Christmas)

Hot Toddy or Hot Cider? Again I’ve never tasted Hot Toddy but I love cider in any form.

8. What is your favorite part of the holiday season? Least favorite part?
I love standing in front of the lighted candles with my family. I hate the rush trying to get organised and home at a reasonable hour because we don’t have a day off work.

9. Let it Snow or Holiday in the Sun? Snow, every time.

10. Favorite Childhood Holiday Memory?
I wasn’t a child by then but my first Hanukkah in Israel where every thing is dreidels and menorahs and it is not overwhelmed by Christmas.

My favourite Christmas as a child was when my grandmother got bronchitus and my mother went down with the flu. No one was dangerously ill but we stayed at home on our own and lazed around in our pajamas listening to Burt Bacharach.

11. Stay up late & wait for Santa or Bed early & get up early to see what Santa brought?
Why spoil the surprise? Go to bed at a reasonable hour and let Santa do his job in peace. And as a child I never, ever got up early.

12. What is your holiday wish? World peace? But seriously health and happiness for all my loved ones and maybe a well deserved promotion for my hard-working husband.


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