1) When is Channukah?

December.  Well, December-ish.  Sometimes November.  See, here’s the thing.  Jews don’t really like to be tied down with dates and everything.  It’s best to keep an open schedule, just in case your neighbors decide to throw a last-minute Inquisition. 

Actually, Jewish holidays occur according to a lunar calendar, unlike the conventional Julian calendar.  There are plenty of reasons why we should switch over, just like there are a lot of reasons America should switch to the metric system.  Good luck making that happen.

In general, when you want to find out when a Jewish Holiday is, find increasingly observant Jews and ask them until you have an answer.  The internet-savvy could say that they “Jew-ggled it.”

2) What do Jews typically eat on Channukah?

Latkes.  Latkes are potatoes and onions, shredded or mashed, then mixed with an egg and some flour, formed into patties and fried.  Despite being made exactly like hash browns, they somehow taste much more awesome than hash browns.  Definitely worth the circumcision, in my opinion.

3) I always heard that Jews receive eight presents for Channukah, one for each day.  Is that true?

Turns out that this is another December myth, just like Santa Claus and the idea that egg nog can be worthwhile without booze in it.  You know how it sucks figuring out what to get people for the holidays?  Mulitply that by eight.  That’s why Jews usually get one big present broken into eight different parts, like that year my parents gave me a Nintendo, but I had to wait seven days to get the power cord.  We just tell the Gentiles that bit about the eight presents to make their kids jealous.

4) What the hell is Dreidle?

A great way to keep kids entertained for twenty or thirty seconds.  The Dreidle itself is a spinning top with four sides and one Hebrew character on each side.  Supposedly it makes for some kind of gambling game, but no one knows the rules, because unlike legitimate games of chance, it isn’t played in a casino or by the black guys outside my apartment building.  These days, kids play Dreidle for chocolate coins wrapped in foil, and near as I can tell, the rules go like this: one player spins the Dreidle until such time as it rolls under a couch or similarly heavy piece of furniture, at which point all players eat their remaining chocolate and go off searching for the power cord to their new Nintendo.

5) How do you spell Channukah? 

It’s understandable that people are frustrated by the lack of a standard spelling for the name.  No matter how you spell it, you can’t get it right.  But that means you can’t really get it wrong either.  Think of it as free-form improvisation.  This year I wrote all of my cards spelling it with a pound sign, and I’d bet five bucks that no one says a word.

6) Are there any good Channukah songs and/or carols?

What, “Dreidle Dreidle Dreidle” isn’t enough for you???   Well then…um… some of our prayers have catchy tunes…  To be honest, for the most part we just sit around waiting to find out if Adam Sandler has come up with more liquor and/or marijuana based rhymes for “Channukah”.

7) What should I get a Jew for Channukah? 

Turns out that Jews like iTunes Gift Certificates, Starbucks Cards and giant tubs of popcorn divided into Butter, Cheese, and Caramel flavors just as much as the next Gentile.  There’s just one thing.  If you don’t mind, please make sure the front of the card doesn’t have Santa on it.  You can wish us a “Merry Channukah” all you want, but we all know what that word crossed out above Channukah is.

8) Do Jews have a traditional Channukah movie?  Y’know, like It’s a Wonderful Life?

Die Hard.  Not that it needs an explanation, but if Bruce Willis ever goes face to face with that claymation Reindeer, Rudolph’s nose will be red all right… with his own blood.