Savannah Archives: Hanukkahs past and present feature chocolate gelt drops, menorah lightings and dreidel games

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Credit: City of Savannah Municipal Archives

Credit: City of Savannah Municipal Archives

Chag Samaech! Monday December 6th is the last night of Hanukkah.

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Credit: City of Savannah Municipal Archives

Credit: City of Savannah Municipal Archives

Hanukkah is most commonly celebrated at home with fried foods, songs, dreidel games, and of course lighting the menorah. In Savannah, one of the earliest mentions of Hannukah in the Savannah Morning News appeared in 1874.

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Credit: City of Savannah Municipal Archives

Credit: City of Savannah Municipal Archives

In the 1940s, public celebrations of Hanukkah became popular nation-wide and, as a 1965 article about the Christmas program at Sacred Heart Parish demonstrates, celebrations of Christmas and Hanukkah were often combined into one Christian-Jewish celebration.

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Credit: City of Savannah Municipal Archives

Credit: City of Savannah Municipal Archives

Recollections by Savannah’s Jewish citizens include celebrating the holiday modestly. The Savannah Jewish Archives’ oral history collection preserves memories of Hanukkah in Savannah.

Bertha Freedman recounted how “the children…wore a little cloth sack that had a ribbon…through it… For the eight days you wore that and anybody that wanted to give you Chanukah gelt would open up your little bag and put money in it.” Norton Meleaver recalled “having latkes for Chanukah. We didn’t get all the presents that they get now… but just having latkes with applesauce and sour cream was just wonderful.” Savannah’s synagogues and the Jewish Educational Alliance celebrate the Festival of Lights with a range of activities.

The City of Savannah, in partnership with Chabad of Savannah, hosts “Chanukah in the Square,” featuring a Great Chocolate Gelt Drop and a nightly lighting of a public menorah in Ellis Square.

City of Savannah Municipal Archives, Archives@savannahga.gov, Discover the Archives: savannahga.gov/MunicipalArchives.

This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: Savannah Archives: Hanukkahs past and present feature chocolate gelt drops, menorah lightings and dreidel games