I admit, the title is somewhat misleading: technically, Hanukkah was not celebrated in Tudor England because Jews had been expelled from the land some 300 years earlier (and would not be formally allowed back until the mid-seventeenth century). And yet, there were Jews living in Tudor England – we know of a community of Italian musicians that served Henry VIII, we know of Portuguese doctors, like Roderigo Lopez who was Elizabeth I’s principal physician (until Essex accused him of treason…). Of course, they would have been forced to convert, or at least convince everyone they had, so Hanukkah celebrations would have been conducted in secrecy. Meaning that as they added candles to the menorah each night, the celebrants might have been too worried about adding to the danger of discovery to fully appreciate the metaphor of increasing light and joy in the world.
And most of their celebrations would not have involved latkes – since potatoes did not make it to England until late in Elizabeth’s reign. That said, they did have a way of honoring the tradition of eating foods fried in oil (to commemorate the triumph of the Maccabees and the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days): fried cheese and fried cheese pastries…
Happy Hanukkah! I for one am very happy to be celebrating in these times and not five hundred years ago (while the cheese thing might be tempting, that is also still done today). May all our lights safely shine more brightly each day.
If you like my posts, you’ll love my books! Jane the Quene and The Path to Somerset have finally been joined by The Boy King – now available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Apple, or even your local independent bookstore.!
(What? You haven’t read Jane the Quene or Path to Somerset yet? Please do! And equally important – please leave a review – even just a stars rating! It makes a huge difference in helping new readers find them and would mean the world to me!)