Songs of the Season ~ Ocho Kandelikas

Hanukkah (or Chanukah), the Jewish Festival of Lights, commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem after an unexpected Maccabeean victory over the Seleucid empire in the second century BCE; the word itself, ‘Hanukkah,’ is rooted in the Hebrew word for dedication.

Observed for eight nights and days, the holiday begins on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev; being a movable feast, it can occur any time between late November and late December. This year, it happens to begin on the first day of the Christian season of Advent: November 28.

After recapturing Jerusalem from the Syrians, a first priority for the Maccabees, a family dynasty that brought about a restoration of Jewish familial, religious, and political life in the wake of centuries of imperial occupation, was the rededication of their desecrated Temple.

Essential to the rededication was the lighting of the menorah, but only one container of usable oil was found. Despite the limited supply of oil, and despite expectations that it could last for only one night, tradition says the menorah continued to burn for eight days and eight nights until more oil could be produced; that miraculous sign of God’s presence and favor lies at the heart of Hanukkah celebrations.

Menorahs still contain the same seven candleholders used in the ancient temple, but the hanukkiah, or Hanukkah menorah, has nine candlesticks: one for each night of Hanukkah, and a shamash — a ‘helper’ or ‘servant’ candle — to light the others.

Many traditions associated with Hanukkah — the spinning tops called dreidels; the exchange of foil-wrapped chocolate gelt; those yummy potato latkes — are familiar enough, but one of the most beloved ‘songs of the season’ is quite recent. Written by Jewish-American composer Flory Jagoda in 1983, “Ocho Kandelikas” (“Eight Little Candles”) celebrates the holiday in Ladino, a Judeo-Spanish language mixing elements of Old Spanish, Hebrew, Turkish, and other languages of the Iberian Peninsula in the 16th century.

Bosnian-born, Jagoda brought the traditional Ladino ballads and songs of her Sephardic ancestors to American audiences. From the Spanish Inquisition until World War II, Ladino was spoken by thousands of Jews throughout the Mediterranean. Today, it’s spoken primarily in Israel and in Istanbul, home to a prominent Ladino-speaking community and a Ladino newspaper called El Amaneser (The Dawn). Generally, however, Ladino has not been passed on to  younger generations; thanks in part to Flory Jagoda, interest is reviving.

In her latter years, Jagoda convened what she calledVijitas de Alhad, or ‘Sunday visits’ — weekly celebrations of Sephardic stories, songs and cuisine. Participants often included immigrants from Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey; they met in homes and sang in Ladino.

“I write Sephardic songs to continue my family tradition,” Jagoda told the Washington Post in 2002. “During the war, 42 people in my family were all thrown into a mass grave. In their memory, I write songs about them, about holidays, and about the legend of the key, the key they carried from Spain.”

The legend Jagoda mentions suggests that when the Sephardim left Spain they carried their house keys with them, passing them down through the generations. Even today, Sephardic homes may have ancient-looking keys hanging on the wall. “For us,” Jagoda said, “these keys represent a way to unlock the door to a world that has all but vanished, but is not forgotten.”

Flory Jagoda died in January of this year, but she certainly won’t be forgotten. “Ocho Kandelikas” has become as beloved as the woman herself, and it’s delightful to watch her own performance of the song. [Lyrics and translation follow the video.]

Chanukah linda sta aki, ocho kandelas para mi
Chanukah linda sta aki, ocho kandelas para mi
Oh ~ Una kandelika, dos kandelikas, tres kandelikas,
kuatro kandelikas, sintyu kandelikas,
sej kandelikas, siete kandelikas, ocho kandelas para mi
Muchas fiestas vo fazer, kon alegriyas y plazer
Muchas fiestas vo fazer, kon alegriyas y plazer
Una kandelika, dos kandelikas, tres kandelikas,
kuatro kandelikas, sintyu kandelikas,
sej kandelikas, siete kandelikas, ocho kandelas para mi
Los pastelikos vo kumer, kon almendrikas y la myel
Los pastelikos vo kumer, kon almendrikas y la myel
Una kandelika, dos kandelikas, tres kandelikas,
kuatro kandelikas, sintyu kandelikas,
sej kandelikas, siete kandelikas, ocho kandelas para mi
Beautiful Chanukah is now here, And eight candles for me appear.
Lots of parties for my leisure, So much fun and so much pleasure.
Dainty pastries for me to eat, With almonds and honey so sweet.
Oh – one little, two little, three little, four little candles;
Five, six, seven little candles, eight little candles for me.

Covers of the song have multiplied, sometimes in surprising ways. This version by the Music Talks ensemble has the sound of the Klezmer music initially associated with the Ashkenazi Jews of Central and Eastern Europe.

An important mitzvah, or sacred commandment, of Hanukkah is pirsum hanes: a public proclamation of the miraculous events that transpired in the days of the Maccabees. Sometimes that means lighting the hanukkiah at sundown and placing it in a window where passers-by are able to see it. Sometimes it means helping to promote public lighting ceremonies, and sometimes it means taking Flory Jagoda’s little children’s song to a somewhat unexpected venue, with a full ensemble and the Senior Cantor for Congregation Beth Israel in Portland, Oregon in a knock-out of a black dress. Enjoy!

Comments always are welcome.

92 thoughts on “Songs of the Season ~ Ocho Kandelikas

  1. Dear Linda,
    thank you very much for your well written article about the Jewish tradition of Chanukkah. It’s important to uphold these traditions.
    The Fab Four of Cley

    1. Despite all the silliness about ‘cultural appropriation,’ appreciating and celebrating other cultures’ traditions is important. I’m convinced it helps to bring people together, and it certainly enriches life — not to mention making the dinner table more interesting!

    1. Believe me — from the day I realized that Hanukkah and Advent began on the same day to the moment I hit the ‘publish’ button, I learned a lot. A simple thought — “Are there Hanukkah songs, like Christmas songs?” — and I was down the rabbit hole, having a whole lot of fun.

    1. The piece itself is beautiful, but the performance seemed especially good to me: so good, in fact, that I listened multiple times and saved it. I’m no music critic and am especially unqualified to judge a pianist’s skill, but that caught my attention.

    1. Traditions have a history, and learning even a bit of that history can aid appreciation. I came to know a blogger in Jerusalem who introduced me to much I hadn’t known about his traditions; I’ve wished a time or two he still was with us to read this.

  2. Thanks for this wonderful post, Linda, as I read it on the first day of Advent. I’ve enjoyed the videos. We have two menorahs in our house. One is a souvenir from when we visited Israel a long while back, the other is when my son and DIL visited Ethiopia a few years ago. They are both the regular ones with seven candles. The Hanukkah menorah in the picture is beautiful.

    1. I didn’t realize you’d had opportunity to visit Israel. It’s wonderful that both you and your son and DIL have such souvenirs. My remembrance of Ethiopia is a pair of large embroidered crosses done in traditional styles by the men. They worked with mirrors, so the pattern’s exactly the same front and back, but I framed them anyway. This one is similar to one of the pair.

      One of my favorite ‘new’ Hanukkah songs is a cover of OneRepublic’s “Counting Stars” by Shir Soul. A favorite line is, “Hope is our four-letter word; light those candles, watch ’em burn.” That certainly is appropriate for Advent as well as for Hanukkah.

      1. Actually I’d gone on two tours to Israel with my husband joining a Christian group years ago. Memorable experience. My son and DIL went to Ethiopia about six years ago as my DIL had a short teaching term there. They brought back a menorah plus some other souvenirs that’s when I realized the rich history of Christianity in that land.

  3. Thanks for this enlightening – literally and figuratively – article, Linda. It is always important, but most of all in these days, to understand different religions, cultures and mindsets.
    Have a wonderful Sunday,

    1. And it’s not only important to understand different traditions — religous and otherwise — it’s even more important not to attempt to destroy them through everything from ridicule to brute force. Of course, that’s the point of understanding; it helps to make destructiveness less common.

    1. What surprised me in the song is how easily I recognized certain similarities: pastelikos reminded me of pastilles, and the meaning of almendrikas wasn’t hard to figure out: almonds! Even a bit of structure is there: compare the endings of almendrikas and kandelikas. I spy a pattern!

      It was especially pleasing to scroll through the YouTube offerings and find so many versions of the song. From school children to small groups playing at retirement homes, there was something for everyone. I’d say its chances of being with us for a while are good.

  4. Your essay on Hanukkah is an outstanding contribution to enhancing our understanding of cultural differences and focusing on the things that bring us together in peace and harmony. Thank you, Linda!

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it, Peter; thank you. At first, I was going to draw some comparisons between Hanukkah and Advent, and then I realized that the calendar wouldn’t allow me to include the Orthodox Christians of various sorts, so I decided to highlight one holiday at a time, and I’m glad I did. The research was fascinating.

  5. I’ve always felt close to Jewish traditions, perhaps because of my Catholic upbringing. Many of my friends in high school were Jewish, and going to Services (even just once) was a treat. After I became an adult, I worked with Jewish people, and my appreciation of their culture deepened. Thank you, Linda, for researching this post — and for the delightful links!

    1. As far as I know (or remember) there was only one Jewish family in our small town. Their daughter was older, but we were in high school together. I remember with some amusement and appreciation the year we had two holiday dances rather than one at the Country Club: a Christmas Dance, and a Hannukah Hop. All the kids went to both, and had double the fun. I don’t remember many details, but I do remember that the ballroom was decorated for both with a combination of traditional Christmas stars and stars of David. It IS possible to let traditions co-exist, and to appreciate them all.

  6. Thanks for this lovely post, Linda and especially for the music links! While the story of the oil is a popular one (begins in the 15th (?) century Chanukah is celebrated for 8 days because during the fighting, the Maccabees couldn’t observe the holiday of Sukkot, which is a fall harvest festival and was when the Temple was cleansed and rededicated–and lasts for 8 days. Chanukah means ‘dedication’.

    1. I did mention the meaning of the word Chanukah in the first paragraph here, but it’s easy enough to read past little details like that. I’d not known it before; that was part of what I learned while writing this.

      In all of my reading, I didn’t come across the connection to Sukkot, and when my friend in Jerusalem celebrated that festival and wrote about it, he never mentioned the connection, either. Different search terms turn up different information, and I found a very interesting article that included this paragraph:

      “The holiday of Sukkot played a major role in the processes of building both the first and second temples. 1 Kings 8:2 recounts how Solomon intentionally dedicated his newly built Temple during the holiday of Sukkot, thereby imbuing the nationalistic meaning that Sukkot already held for the Israelites with renewed significance. Similarly, in Ezra 3:4 the Second Temple was dedicated on Sukkot, and in Nehemiah 8:18, the celebration over the completion of the wall and the public reading of the Torah ends with a Sukkot celebration.”

      How about that? Now, I need to spend a little more time with the Maccabees. I surely must have known at one time that First and Second Maccabees are in the Christian biblical canon, but not in the Jewish. I need to go back to Old Testament class!

      1. Sukkot is the third major ‘rung’ of the High Holiday season: Rosh Hashanah=reflection, Yom Kippur= return, Sukkot= re-dedication. (One other, the tail end of High Holidays, is Simchat Torah=joy.) Sukkot is a major holiday in the Jewish ritual cycle, whereas Chanukah, while historical, is considered a minor holiday. It’s mostly taken a front seat here in the US because of its general proximity to Christmas, though in Israel, it’s celebrated as a military victory.

        One other tidbit is that it’s thought that the PIlgrims were emulating the fall harvest festival of Sukkot when they shared the fall celebratory meal that we now know as the center of Thanksgiving Day. I especially like when Chanukah falls on or near to Thanksgiving; it’s just a nice tie-in of ancient, not-quite-so-ancient, and modern customs and celebrations.

        A good volume for the understanding of the Jewish holiday cycle is ‘The Jewish Holidays: A guide and Commentary’ by Michael Strassfeld. That said, there are probably a million others just as good.

        1. If sales are any indication, Strassfeld’s book is a winner. It’s everywhere, at every price point. I’m going to pick up a copy; it will make a good read, and a good addition to my library.

          Coincidentally, this article by Bari Weiss showed up in my inbox today. I found it interesting; you might, too.

  7. A very interesting read! Those ancient house keys must hold a lot of family history and strong feelings too, I should think.

    1. Why, you’re welcome! I’ve listened to the song so many times at this point I find myself humming it even away from the computer, which isn’t the worst thing in the world.

    1. A little lightheartedness and a happy song are just the ticket, I’d say. It’s a different way of doing what you’re doing with your Fri Yays. Like you, I favor the Pink Martini version. They’re going to be in Houston in January; I’d love to see them live, but I think I’ll stick with my CDs and YouTube; the tickets are more than a little pricey.

  8. I loved each version of Ocho Kandelikas and some history of Chanukah. My favorite version was Flory Jagoda’s. It seemed so personal with the telling of the story of 42 of her family being buried in a mass grave. Brought some tears.

    1. I couldn’t get into all the events of her life in this post, but you can find more in this article. One of the details I love is that after fleeing to safety and meeting her husband-to-be, she made her wedding dress from a parachute. Also: as a young girl, she managed to avoid having her papers checked on a train by continually playing her accordion and entertaining the train officials. Creative, and effective — and never bitter.

    1. And of course that raised another question: are rabbits considered kosher? The answer is no. I just learned that a mammal is kosher if it has split hooves and chews its cud; both qualities are necessary. So, cows, sheep, goats and deer are kosher, while pigs, rabbits, squirrels, bears, dogs, cats, camels, and horses are not. And now we know!

  9. Great post, Linda. It was nice to learn about the background of this song, which I’ve heard before, but didn’t know the story behind it. I can’t imagine the pain of losing 48 relatives in such a cruel way.

    1. The full story of her life, including her escape from Sarajevo during the war and her coming to America as a war bride is fascinating. Her family wasn’t the only one that suffered, of course. Of the Yugoslavian Jewish population of 82,000, fewer than 6,000 survived. Given the growing authoritarianism around the world, her remarks in an interview are chilling:

      “Yugoslavia’s occupation by the Nazis brought increased acts of anti-Semitism. First, they came and took your radios. Then you had your yellow patches on your left-hand chest. Then only certain streets you could walk. Then they started gathering people and sending them to camps.”

      Family friends sent three train tickets with non-Jewish names for the Adriatic port city of Split, which was filling with refugees. To avoid attracting attention, Jagoda went first, taking an accordion with her.
      “My father said, ‘Don’t talk. Just play the accordion.’ I played it from Zagreb to Split. That little accordion, which I still have, saved my life.”

  10. My introduction to Ladino was a little ditty from the sound track of a Minnie Driver movie called “The Governess” sung by the incomparable and much lamented Ofrah HazaAn interesting little film concerning a young Sephardic woman in England and the infancy of photography. Ofrah Haza had to have the words written out for her phonetically. She spoke Hebrew, but neither Yiddish, nor Ladino.

    1. It’s a beautiful song. I noticed that a commenter at the Youtube site left a link to a more complete version, with translation. I think I recognized that commenter’s name — yes? The film’s available to rent on Amazon; I put it on my watch list.

    1. Each of the versions of the song is different, and each has its appeal. I always enjoy being able to listen to a composer sing his or her own song, and it’s no different with this one. Somewhere, I read that she said her audiences are her children, and she’s singing to them, to remind them that her tradition is theirs. How beautiful!

  11. Thanks for this. I’m going to be humming this tune all day of course. Fascinating to listen to the different interpretations of, and attitude about, this song. I like knowing that there are lots of holidays in this world, not just the ones I grew up with. The more you know, the farther [and more empathetic] you’ll go.

    1. I listened to the song so many times while I was writing this, it embedded itself, and I woke up this morning with it playing in my mind. It’s not the worst earworm in the world!

      Like you, I enjoy learning about other traditions. ‘Light’ certainly is a thread running through a number of festivals, like Hanukkah, or Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights. I grew up with Santa Lucia, or St. Lucy’s Day, a Swedish celebration; it featues candles and song, too. I’m glad we have them all, and not just Festivus!

  12. In all my nearly 70 years on earth, born Jewish, the grand-daughter of immigrants, I have learned more here reading this blog post about the history of Judaism and Hanukkah than I have at any other time in my life. Thank you for that. I’m going to have re-read this post a few more times today.

    1. Well, then — we were learning together. I first heard of Hanukkah in the early 1960s, when the lone Jewish classmate in my high school held a ‘Hanukkah Hop’ alongside our annual Christmas Dance. Both were great fun, and everyone attended both, but none of us thought a thing about the holiday, or what it signified. Eventually, I met other Jewish people and learned a good bit more, but there clearly is much more to learn.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post. The music certainly is worth a few listens! I mentioned Klezmer in the post; you might also enjoy this fabulous, longer-than-usual video of Itzhak Perlman playing Klezmer. My introduction to that music came in Berkeley in the 1970s; a group called the Klezmorim had just formed, and I was hooked.

  13. I love Hanukkah and I often wonder why it isn’t celebrated by Christians as well as Jews, given the history and connection of the two religions, one as the springboard for another. I love all these audio pieces, the minor keys and the music. (Although I have to say, in my world Pink Martini can do no wrong and that’s definitely my fave!) I have a small menorah to honor this holiday. My cousins, meanwhile –an interfaith family — have started the celebrations!

    1. I’m absolutely with you on Pink Martini. I’ve loved them from the first time I heard them. Have you attended a concert? I know they’ve been in your area in the past. They’re coming to Houston in January; I’d decided not to go, although I’m still sort of debating. With luck, I’ll think too long, and then the decision will be made for me.

      I was especially interested to learn about the commandment to place the Hanukkah menorah in the window. It reminded me of how my mother and grandmother always would put candles in the windows at Christmas. They were the old-fashioned, stair-stepped electric kind, but they were so pretty — especially when it snowed. Coming home on Thanksgiving night, I noticed how many homes already have Christmas lights up. I think everyone is ready for a little light in the darkness.

  14. Utterly delightful. All three. Recently found out that my 7x great-grandfather was a Jew from Germany. A big surprise for this Catholic girl, but my cousins and I were thrilled to find out about him, and a Jewish friend said she knew all along that there was something about me.

    1. “There’s just ‘something’ about Laurie” — that gave me a chuckle! Isn’t it fun to find connections like that — not only to an individual, but also to a whole community and culture? It just occurred to me — if you’re a Mainer, and Catholic, do you have French Canadian/Acadian roots, too? What a rich mix of cultures that would be.

    1. And speaking of guitar and language, klezmer led me to this Romani classic that’s especially favored at weddings. In it, the family welcomes a new daughter-in-law and implores the patriarch to do a dance to get the party started. I dare you to listen and not be smiling (and maybe dancing) by the end.

      1. The trick (as you know) is that by halfway into the number, you already have everyone on the floor, and then at every turn, you accelerate the pace, and — if you’re dancing — you’re stuck! And, man! it gets fast! How very much fun it would be to dance at that wedding, eh? Thank you.

        1. I had exactly that experience once, at a place called Angelle’s Whiskey River on the levee in Henderson, Louisiana. I’d landed in Breaux Bridge, and the proprietress of my B&B said, “You’re going dancing.” When I protested that I didn’t have a partner, she laughed and laughed, then said, “Cher, you’ll not be needing one.” She was right. Someday, I might write about that experience. This is the song that transported me to some other world. I never even knew my partner’s name. Some day I may find a way to write about the experience. All I have now is the title: “The Land of Ladies’ Choice.”

          1. Ah, friend, that’s lovely. Don’t get me going on that button accordion Cajun music. I once did (honestly) have a chance to sit in with Dewey Balfa and Bois Sec Ardoin on a moonlit night in West Virginia, and they sang in that odd, high-pitched version of a language that is neither English or French, but something … Cajun. And long after the blues musicians had called it a night and rolled off to bed, the Cajuns were still up doing that odd little two-step of theirs, and we sang. Mon coeur fait mal, c’est vrai. It hurts for anyone who’s never had such joy. Merci.

            1. Now, that would have been an experience. It’s hard to believe Dewey’s been gone nearly thirty years now. But the tradition lives on. Every Saturday morning in Eunice, at the Savoy Music Center, there’s a Cajun music jam where some of the history’s still alive. I nearly made it there once, but I got waylaid by a bucket of crawfish. I’m going to try again, when time and money allow.

    1. We’re learning together, Ann. I’d never come across Ladino, either. It’s amazing how many traditions and cultures are hidden away in this world, just waiting to be discovered.

  15. I really enjoyed listening to these three music videos. I was familiar with the story associated with this Jewish celebration but not in as much depth as you presented it here. Thank you. We had neighbors here, a Jewish spouse married to a Christian whose children celebrated both traditions, to the envy of other neighborhood children.

    1. I’m amused by the fact that I’m still waking in the morning ‘hearing’ this song. Before writing this post I’d never heard it; now, it’s my constant companion. Perhaps if more people listened to good music more often, we’d be better off as a society. How’s that for an idle thought?

      I didn’t know a Jewish person until I reached high school, but in sixth grade, one segment of our gym class was devoted to dancing, and we learned the hora — along with square dancing, ballroom, and so on. We not only danced, we were required to write a paper about each dance’s historical development and its importance to its culture. In 1950s Iowa, teachers were determined that we should know about the wider world that was waiting for us.

    1. That’s one reason I wanted to use the music, and in several versions, to appeal to different people. It’s one thing to tell people “about” a holiday, but it’s quite another to let them experience just a bit of its spirit. I wasn’t sure if it would work, but your comment suggests it did. Thank you!

  16. You are a light of lights! I thoroughly enjoyed this post and the music. Although a minor Jewish holiday, Hannukah has become very much at the forefront of Jewish holidays, partly, I think because it falls at Christmas time. One thing I learned recently is that the candles on the menorah are just that…candles to commemorate the miracle of the long-lasting oil. In our tradition, I grew up thinking that each candle symbolized a meaningful quality. For example, the third candle was Justice, the fourth, mercy, the fifth, holiness and so on.
    Last night at a Boy Scout dinner, I learned that this tradition may have only come from our temple back in the 50’s. At any rate, thank you for this lively and informative post. xxxooo

    1. It’s interesting to compare the Hannukah menorah and the traditional Advent wreath, which has a candle for each of the four Sundays in Advent and a center candle for Christmas. For both faith communities, the ritual lighting is a way to remember past events, future hopes, and present realities. And of course, in both traditions, the combination of light and music is powerful — and sometimes quite a bit of fun.

      I think you might get a kick out of the Maccabeats’ version of the Dreidel song. It just didn’t fit in this post, but I really enjoyed it when I found it, and saved it. Maybe next year. Happy Hannukah!

  17. This was/is a beautiful post, and the song is a new one for me. So pretty, and that first version made me smile. What a beautiful woman!

    I’ll be playing those two versions often, refreshing my memory and following the poetic flow.

    This was sobering: “…During the war, 42 people in my family were all thrown into a mass grave. In their memory, I write songs about them, about holidays, and about the legend of the key, the key they carried from Spain..” — reminds me to be grateful for many reasons.

    Thank you for the history and music!

    1. As so often happens, it was an idle thought — “I wonder how often Hanukkah and Advent begin on the same day? — that led to some serious exploration and wonder-filled discoveries. Think how many ‘hidden’ people are enriching lives all around us; Flory Jagoda wasn’t hidden to her communities, of course, but she certainly has been for many of us. It was delightful to discover her, and her song.

      I had to smile when I read that I had characterized Ocho Kandelikas as a ‘new’ song, when it was written in 1983. In the grand scheme of things, that is newish, but it’s also more than thirty years ago. When I think of what was happening in my own life in 1983, it seems like yesterday!

  18. Oh how I enjoyed this post! I had the biggest smile on my face as I read and watched the videos. Jagoda drew me in, a first-timer truly appreciating the teaching. I truly loved most, the body movement of the last video – so entrancing and luring (especially the woman in the red dress!)… who wouldn’t want to dance?

    1. I’m so glad! Each of the videos pleases me in a different way. Seeing an older woman so obviously vibrant and engaged is wonderful, but given my love of Klezmer music and Pink Martini, I had to include those versions, too. If you haven’t explored Pink Martini’s music, I think you’d like it. I was introduced to them through their version of Tuca Tuca, and played the song often through the recent craziness as a reminder of how humans are supposed to live. (By the way — Mi piaci means, “I like!”)

  19. Once again, I’ve been away from you blog too long! Thanks for this post, I loved hearing Flory Jagoda’s version. While it’s not seasonal music, I’ve been enjoying the Acadian trio Vishten recently. There are a number of videos on YouTube.

    1. It was interesting to listen to Vishten and notice both similarities to and differences from the Cajun music I’m more accustomed to. The use of percussion pads brought to mind Appalachian flat-footing as well as fiddlesticks, and the inclusion of the whistle on some songs was Irish to my ear!

    1. I certainly learned a good bit while writing it. Like most people, I knew something of the foods associated with Hanukkah, and I knew about the miracle of the oil, but there was much that I had yet to learn. Of course, there’s far more that I still don’t know. As so often happens, the ‘popular’ songs associated with the festival are familiar, but this one is even more delightful. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  20. Having been born and raised Jewish I obviously know most of the traditions, but as someone no longer practicing any particular religion for a number of years, decades actually, I was completely unaware of Flory Jagoda’s modern addition to the theme, “Ocho Kandelikas” nor did I know of Ladino. As always, your research and wonderful way with writing made for a very enjoyable and informative post. L’Chaim, Linda!

    1. One thing I noticed while researching Hanukkah music is that like Christmas music, there are certain songs that get played to death, while newer or more interesting music — like Flory Jagoda’s — gets ‘lost.’

      That said, there are some contemporary versions of old classics like the Dreidel Song that are just wonderful. Check out this one by The Maccabeats. Enjoying different musical genres as you do, I suspect you’ll enjoy it. And at the very end, after the whole group comes together, there’s another parody at 3:20 that’s so very familiar, and yet I can’t place what the original song was. Queen, maybe? Help! It’s driving me crazy.

        1. Thank you! There’s nothing worse than having a song nag at you and not being able to ID it. Well, unless it’s that Sandler version. That is pretty bad. I actually heard it on the radio this year — and turned it off.

          1. I know that he is very popular but am not sure exactly why although maybe because our collective sense of humor has taken a nosedive lately. I am glad that you had heard it before so you can’t blame me for introducing it to you.

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