What is Hanukkah and how do you celebrate it? Get to know the basics of this popular Jewish holiday, including ideas for unique Hanukkah gifts and decorations.
Hanukkah, the eight day celebration known as the Festival of Lights, celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Typically occurring during November or December, Hanukkah is celebrated by lighting the menorah, playing games, giving gifts, and cooking traditional foods.
This year, Hanukkah 2021 will begin at sundown on the evening of Sunday, November 28th, and end at sundown on Monday, December 6th.
Each night, when the first star appears in the sky, families gather around the Menorah (muh-naw-ruh) to recite the Jewish Hanukkah blessings, and then light the candles. The candles are placed into the menorah right to left, and lit left to right, with the Shamash (shuh-maash), the center candle. Electric menorahs are also popular, with each bulb being turned on in the same order the candles are lit.
Many homes light more than one menorah, and children often have their own, whether it’s one they’ve made, or been gifted. Fun variations range from wooden menorahs, to this personalized acrylic LED menorah, laser engraved with the phrase: “Eights nights & eight lights.”
Games, gifts, and Gelt are essentials for any Hanukkah celebration. Spinning the dreidel (dray-del), a 4-sided top, is a traditional and popular game. The top is spun, and players win based on which side the dreidel lands. Gelt, chocolate coins wrapped in foil, are typically the yummy prize in a game of dreidel. Also a popular gift, Hanukkah Gelt means “Hanukkah money”. Parents gave their children Gelt to be gifted to teachers, and over time it became a gift for children as well.
A large majority of modern Jewish families are interfaith, with one Jewish partner, and one non-Jewish partner. Often celebrating Hanukkah and Christmas together, these families enjoy combined traditions. This Hanukkah Wishes Photo Ornament, featuring the family name and an image of a menorah, is the perfect gift to hang on the tree and celebrate both holidays.
Fried foods are a favorite Hanukkah tradition! Cooking foods in oil, like latkes (laat-kuhz) and sufganiyot (soof-gah-nee-yote), celebrates the miracle of the menorah oil burning for eight days, instead of one.
Crispy and savory, latkes are fried potato pancakes, eaten with apple sauce and sour cream. Another mouthwatering favorite, Sufganiyot are jelly donuts. Fried, filled with fruit jam, and dusted with powdered sugar, these are often shared as gifts. Up your Hanukkah tablescape by serving your delicious, fried treats on personalized Hanukkah plates that feature your family name, adding another unique touch to your holiday celebration.
Create new traditions for your Hanukkah celebration with personalized keepsakes and gifts your friends and family will love.
How Do You Celebrate Hanukkah?
What are your favorite Hanukkah traditions? How do you celebrate the Festival of Lights with family and friends? Share your favorite Hanukkah traditions, or combined Hanukkah and Christmas traditions, in the comments below.