13 December 2008

Music: Chanukah songs for the toe-tappers

footnoteMaven has challenged genbloggers to a Blog Carol.

Tracing the Tribe, representing the MOTs (Members of the Tribe) decided that Chanukah needed a place in the line-up.

One of my favorite Chanukah songs is the Sephardic "Ocho Kandelikas" (Eight Candles) Here's the great Flory Jagoda's version. Sing along with the Ladino lyrics:

Hanukah linda sta aki,
ocho kandelas para mi,
Hanukah linda sta aki,
ocho kandelas para mi. O...

CORO
Una kandelika, dos kandelikas, tres kandelikas, kuatro kandelikas,
sintyu kandelikas, sej kandelikas, siete kandelikas, ocho kandelas para mi.


Muchas fiestas vo fazer,
con alegrias i plazer.
Muchas fiestas vo fazer,
con alegrias i plazer. O...

Los pastelikos vo kumer,
con almendrikas i la myel
Los pastelikos vo kumer,
con almendrikas i la myel. O...

CORO
Una kandelika, dos kandelikas, tres kandelikas, kuatro kandelikas,
sintyu kandelikas, sej kandelikas, siete kandelikas, ocho kandelas para mi.

Chanukah is known as the Feast of Lights. It celebrates right over might, miracles of freedom and focuses on oil (fried everything!), candles, spinning tops (dreidels) and eight days of presents (at least in the US tradition).

While the food and the company is great, the traditional holiday songs are not exactly exciting compared to the large number of popular songs written for Christmas. Of course, many popular Christmas songs were written by MOTs , so I guess we can also claim the following (either the composer, lyricist or both were Jewish):

The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) (1945)
Rudoph the Red Nosed Reindeer (1939)
Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree (1958)
Holly Jolly Christmas (1962)
Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow! (1945)
Santa Claus is Coming to Town (1934)
Silver Bells (1951)
I'll Be Home for Christmas (1943)
It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (1963)
Sleigh Ride (1950)
There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays (1954)
White Christmas (1940)


Imagine if all these Jewish composers and lyricists had put their hand to writing White Chanukah, I'll Be Home for Chanukah, Silver Dreidels, Holly Jolly Chanukah, Rockin' Around the Chanukiah, Juda Maccabee is Coming to Town, and the Chanukah Song. We'd definitely be singing different music today! I'd like think that as they were writing those songs, they were thinking about celebrating the age-old Festival of Lights with their families.

Time for a personal memory here: as kids in the Bronx, we sang several verses of "Deck the halls," substituting "boughs of holly" with " loaves of challa-y" (a definite Chicago accent here to the challah!).

And for Tracing the Tribe readers and my genblogger colleagues: If you're confused by the different spellings of the holiday, so is everyone else. There is no single correct way to transliterate the word Chanukah from Hebrew. It is transliterated from the Hebrew which means there's a lot of leeway in how to spell it in English. Chanukkah, Chanukah, Chanuka, Chanukah, Hanuka, Hanukah, Hanukkah, Hanukkah, Channuka, Channukka, Chanike etc. You'll see an infinite variety of CHs, Hs, Ns, Ks. And that's only in English. Look for it in French, Spanish, Italian, German, etc. and you'll see more variations.

Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. Jimmy3712:38 PM

    As an aside, songs like "Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!" and "Sleigh Ride" should be called "Winter" songs as they don't mention Christmas or Santa Claus or holidays. They celebrate snow and cold weather. Even the venerable "Jingle Bells" is a winter song.

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