5 Hanukkah Traditions

Celebrate the festival of lights and stick to Hanukkah traditions to show your appreciation for the holiday. Take part in Chanukah traditions such as lighting the menorah, playing the dreidel game, eating gelt, cooking and baking delicious food, and enjoying the fun of Hanukkah gifts.

Incorporate these traditional ideas for Hanukkah into your upcoming holiday celebration:

  • Menorah: Commemorate the miracle that a one-day supply of oil lasted for eight days. Light the nine-branched menorah to represent the miracle and one of the many Hanukkah traditions and customs. Dust off your menorah from last year, or purchase one at your local Judaica store. Make sure to have candles available for each of the eight nights of Hanukkah. Practice the traditional Hanukkah prayers and recite them when you light the menorah.
  • Dreidel game: Break out your dreidels and get ready for some traditional Hanukkah fun. Notice the Hebrew letters on each side of the dreidel, which represent the words, “A great miracle happened there,” referring to the miracle of the oil. Start the dreidel game with the proper supplies, which include 10 or 15 coins (real or of chocolate) for each player. Place one coin in the center pot. Have the first player spin the dreidel. Look to see which side faces up, once the dreidel falls down. Instruct the player to either take a coin from the pot or give up a portion of his or her coins, based on the following code:
  • Nun– "nothing"– nothing happens
  • Gimel– "all"– take everything in the pot
  • Hey– "half"– take half of the pot (round up if necessary)
  • Shin– "put in" – put one coin in the pot

Continue to play until one person has all of the coins.

  • Gelt: Continue a Hanukkah tradition and purchase some chocolate coins, or gelt. The Yiddish word “gelt” means “money" in English. In historic  times, Jews gave money to teachers, the poor, and also to children. For the sake of modern times, replace the coins with chocolate gelt, and distribute the gelt to children at your Hanukkah party. Supply some additional gelt to use for the dreidel game.
  • Food: Represent the miracle of oil in your Hanukkah celebration, and cook up some tasty potato latkes for appetizers. Next, practice your baking skills. Follow-up the potato latkes with some mouth-watering pastry, such as rugelach, for dessert.
  • Gifts: Keep up with modern times, and expand the gelt-giving tradition to the tradition of giving gifts during Hanukkah. Gifts serve both for the traditional aspect of giving and the fun part of receiving. Decide whether or not to give the kids one small gift for each of the eight nights of Hanukkah or just one big gift. Save the best gifts for your family Hanukkah party.

Practice these Hanukkah traditions and customs in your home, and teach them to your children. Set the foundation for a joyous, yet traditional, Hanukkah each year.

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