Every December for as long as I can remember, my family and I have sat down for a meal or two consisting of fried food such as latkes (AKA potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (round donuts filled with jelly). Year after year, this holiday brings my family together at the dinner table where we light the menorah, say some prayers, and enjoy an elaborate meal.

But if the story of Hanukkah goes back to 2nd century BCE, then why, in 2016, do we eat latkes and sufganiyot to celebrate this holiday?

The Story

There's a lot of history behind why we eat oily food on Hanukkah. Long story short, the evil king Antiochus IV wanted to get rid of the Jews and their religion and enforce hellenism. A man named Judah Maccabee and his brothers fought against Antiochus to keep their religion and reclaim the Jewish temple in Jerusalem.

When the Maccabees returned to the temple after winning the battle, they found that there was only enough oil left to light the eternal flame for one night, but this small amount of oil ended up lasting a whole eight days and eight nights! Thus, we have the miracle of Hanukkah.

The Food

So what's fried food got to do with it? Well, as with many cultures and religions, traditions keep stories alive and bring families together. Eating fried food like latkes and sufganiyot is a tradition that reminds us of the miracle of the oil, but to me, the best part about this tradition is that it brings my family together year after year. And of course, what's better than being with your family and eating some delectable fried food?

In the spirit of most Jewish holidays, Hanukkah involves many other treats and traditions such as chocolate gelt (coins), applesauce and sour cream to top the latkes, and of course, spinning the dreidel. Some people even decorate their house to get in the spirit, but just so you know, in all my years as a Jew I've never seen a Hanukkah bush.

Whatever holidays you celebrate, may they be filled with loving family, memorable traditions and something deep-fried.

Quick shout-out to my parents who fry the latkes together every single year. I love you guys so much.