What is Hanukkah?
Hanukkah (also spelled Chanukah) is our winter festival, known as the festival of lights. It falls on different days in December every year and sometimes [but rarely] occurs in January. Hanukkah usually overlaps with the celebration recognized as Christmas, so non-Jewish families often assume that Hanukkah is just the Jewish version of Christmas. In reality, the religious side of the celebration honours a completely different part of the bible and it’s not honouring the same thing at all. However, the way it’s celebrated by families with the exchange of presents and focus on celebrations, decorating the home, baking and such are all comparable and similar. We just get eight nights of festivities and presents instead of one!
Hanukkah is an important holiday to make festive in the home. I create a winter wonderland of icicles, white lights and fake snow to represent the winter festival peppered with silver and blue, star-of-david ornaments. I decorate our dining table with glittery table settings. Hanukkah decorations should be exciting, especially in a home with children. We should not be the dark house in the road during December. A low key Hanukkah in a home with children sets the foundation for kids to lose their pride in Jewish heritage. Make the most of this time of year! We should be the lovely home filled with blue and silver decor everywhere! Admittedly, I go over the top with my winter and Hanukkah decor. I’m always amused when people walking past my home stop me and compliment the loveliest ‘Christmas decorations’ in the area. So much for the dark house in the street, eh?
Hanukkah is argueably the most celebrated of Jewish holidays by the Jewish people world round, regardless of their interest in anything else traditional. For eight evenings we light the candle tree known as a menorah and exchange presents with our family and friends. There are specific games played on Hanukkah including spinning the dreidel and we sing Hanukkah songs. We also eat chocolate coins named gelt, homemade doughnuts and fried potatoe pancakes, known as latkes.
Embrace Hanukkah! It’s makes wonderful memories for your family and honours our most recognized tradition.