Hanukkah marks an important time in the Jewish calendar, and as such, there is a range of traditional and cultural practices many choose to follow and observe as part of the celebration. This includes adhering to a few dietary restrictions that span the length of the holiday. To ensure a respectful celebration, here’s what you can’t eat during Hanukkah.
What Can’t You Eat During Hanukkah?
The holiday of Hanukkah celebrates the story of the Maccabees and their battle against the Greek-Syrians. The eight-day festival remembers the miracle of the oil that kept the menorah in the Temple of Jerusalem burning. In recognition of this, traditional Hanukkah dishes contain oil, like latkes and sufganiyot.
The list of Hanukkah-off limit items includes pork and any other meat that contains blood. This is in accordance with Jewish dietary law and avoids any bitterness or mixed-flavors. Additionally, some people adhere to a vegan diet, opting to make vegetable dishes such as lentil stew or roasted vegetables instead of traditional potato-based latkes.
Dairy foods like cheese, yogurt, and milk are all welcomed at the Hanukkah table. However, many people choose to avoid consuming meat and dairy together in the same meal. This is known in Hebrew as a “fleishig” meal and is forbidden per the Talmud. Knowing what can’t be combined, the meals enjoyed by Jewish families during Hanukkah are adapted accordingly.
Hanukkah also follows the same dietary laws as the rest of the year-long Jewish holidays, which are referred to as kashrut or “keeping kosher.” This is an observance of purity within the meal and ensures that all of the ingredients and items being used to prepare the meal are meeting the standards set by the Scriptures and the Jewish law.
In determining the validity of a food, it requires examining the list of ingredients first. Foods are classified into three categories: meat, dairy, and pareve, which is a neutral category. Pareve food items include fish, vegetables, and most grains and fruit.
If you’re preparing a meal for Hanukkah, you might want to stick to the basics, like roasted vegetables and potatoes for sides, and fish for the main course. A variety of salads, soups, and breads are also appropriate for the holiday season. Just keep the following in mind:
- No pork or other meat containing blood
- No consuming meat and dairy in the same meal
- Observe kashrut laws when preparing and selecting food
Whilst many of the dietary restrictions might take away from the gustatory joy that Hanukkah typically brings, it is important to honor and express cultural respect for the holiday. With a little creativity, vegans and meat-eaters alike can enjoy a meal that is both delicious and respectful of the laws of the festival.
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Last update 2023-11-21. Price and product availability may change.