According to Haaretz.com, the online edition of the Haaretz newspaper in Israel, Loft Inc, an American candy company, introduced the first chocolate gelt in the 1920s. The treats were wrapped in gold and silver foil and further packaged in net pouches to resemble tiny money bags. From giving out gold and silver coins to distributing chocolate gelt, this has been a popular tradition. There have been many reasons why these treats are extended to the young children of the family. Read on to know what they are.
Why Do Adults Give Chocolate Gelt to Children on Hanukkah?
Here is a list of important reasons why the children of the family are given chocolate gelt on the holiday of Hanukkah:
1. According to Jewish legend, the Jewish ruling power, the Hasmoneans, minted national coins to celebrate the victory of Maccabee, a Jew war hero, over the ancient Greeks. These coins were subsequently used in the 18th century to offer as a token of gratitude to religious teachers. Young children used to take these coins from their guardians to offer them to their teachers. However, nowadays children are offered chocolate gelt instead to simply mark the holiday.
2. Children who are enthusiastic about visiting Hasidic Rebbes, the dynasty head of Judaism, and pay a visit to him during the season also deserve to receive treats or gold coins.
3. Chocolate coins that look like ancient coins that were minted by the Hasmoneans are also distributed to young children to help them commemorate the victory of Maccabee.
4. It has been a long standing tradition to play the game of dreidel, after lighting the menorah. The legend has it that the Romans forbade Jews from studying the Torah. This was why the game of dreidel was invented to teach Jewish children about their religion. Driedel is a spinning top with four sides. Each side is imprinted with a Hebrew letter. Nowadays, children participate in this game enthusiastically to get a chance of receiving chocolate gelt or sometimes even real money.
5. A treasure hunt and other educational games are also planned by the parents for their young children to educate them about the history and practice of Hanukkah. Jumble word quizzes are made with typical Hebrew words and left for the teenagers and young children to rearrange on this holiday. Those who successfully rearrange the words are offered chocolate gelt by the elders.
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