nittel nacht

Alternative Spellings

nitel nakht, nitel nacht, nitl nakht, nitl nacht

Definitions

  • Christmas Eve

Example Sentences

  • “The Rebbe Rashab once said that the reason for not studying Torah on Nittel nacht is that ”one should not elicit an increase in life-force.” This restriction on study applies only until midnight.” (http://crownheights.info/psa/418346/tonight-nittel-nacht-2/)
  • "There are additonal customs associated with Nittel Nacht, such as eating garlic to ward off the demons (particularly you know whose), praying Aleinu out loud (since that is the prayer against idolatry), and not going to sleep all night." (http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/muqata/just-say-no-to-nittel-nacht/2013/12/24/)

Languages of Origin

Yiddish

Etymology

ניטל נאַכט nitl nakht. The Yiddish word "nitl" comes from Late Latin (dies) natalis 'nativity (day)' or Medieval Latin natale (domini) 'birth of (our lord)' (Steinmetz, Dictionary of Jewish Usage).

Who Uses This

Orthodox: Jews who identify as Orthodox and observe halacha (Jewish law)
Hasidim

Regions

North America

Dictionaries

Dictionary of Jewish Usage: A Guide to the Use of Jewish Terms, by Sol Steinmetz (Lanham, MD, 2005).

Notes

"Nittel Nacht observances remain in Hasidic communities, taking place either for the last six or 12 hours on Dec. 24 or, for Hasidic sects with origins in Russia or Ukraine, for the six or 12 hours before the Eastern Orthodox Christmas on Jan. 7." (http://forward.com/culture/327750/how-the-hasidim-observe-christmas-eve/) A folk etymology is that "nitl" is an acronym for Nisht Yidn Toyre Lernen 'Jews don't study Torah,' based on the custom of not studying Torah on Christmas.

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