Hanukkah is one of the oldest Jewish holidays, celebrating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire. For eight days and nights, families traditionally light candles, exchange gifts, and eat special foods to commemorate this joyous occasion. If you’re new to celebrating Hanukkah, you’ll be happy to learn that it’s easy to join in the festivities even if you are unfamiliar with the holiday’s specifics.
Table of Contents
Traditions to Celebrate Hanukkah
Lighting the Menorah Candles
Each night of Hanukkah, a special menorah (or Hanukkiah) is lit with nine candles, including one to act as the “shamash” or “helper candle,” which is used to light the other eight candles. An extra candle is typically lit each night in succession until all eight candles are lit on the 8th night. The menorah is placed in a window or an area where others can see it, to publically announce the holiday’s celebration. On the first night, two blessings are recited:
- Blessing for Lighting Candles: “Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to kindle the Hanukkah light.”
- Blessing for Hanukkah: “Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who performed miracles for our forefathers in those days at this time.
To supplement the Hanukkiah candles, many people light a single yahrzeit candle. This traditionally memorializes the death of a family member and may be lit continuously throughout the eight days of Hanukkah.
Playing Dreidel Games
An important part of any Hanukkah celebration is the game of dreidel. A four-sided top marked with Hebrew letters is spun in a group of two or more people, with each spinner taking turns collecting (or losing) pieces of chocolate, gelt, or other small treats. Historically, the game was used to mask the study of Torah when it was not allowed by oppression, and so the game is a reminder of the holiday’s history. The Hebrew letters on the dreidel – nun, gimmel, hei, and shin– stand for the phrase, “Nes Gadol Haya Sham,” “A great miracle happened there.”
In line with many other holiday customs, exchanging gifts is a popular choice among families during Hanukkah. During the holiday period, both children and adults may receive gifts. Common gifts include small toys, books, and chocolate coins called gelt, which is traditionally given to children.
Hanukkah is a time of joy and celebration for Jewish families and those of other faiths who join in on the festivities. With a few key traditions – lighting the candles, playing dreidel, and exchanging gifts – you can celebrate Hanukkah for the first time. Have fun, and Chag Sameach! (meaning “Happy Holiday!” in Hebrew).
- Hanukkah How To Celebrate?
- How To Celebrate First Day Of Hanukkah?
- How To Celebrate The First Night Of Hanukkah?
- How To Properly Celebrate Hanukkah?
- How To Celebrate The First Day Of Hanukkah?
- How To Celebrate Hanukkah For Beginners?
- How To Celebrate Hanukkah?
- How To Celebrate First Night Of Hanukkah?
- How To Celebrate Christmas And Hanukkah Together?
- How To Celebrate Hanukkah At Work?
- How To Celebrate Each Day Of Hanukkah?
- What Time To Light Hanukkah Candles Tonight?
- How To Celebrate Hanukkah As A Christian?
- What Time To Light Candles For Hanukkah?
- What Time To Light Hanukkah Candles?
Last update 2023-11-26. Price and product availability may change.