Each year, people around the world celebrate the festival of Hanukkah as a cherished tradition. The eight-day tradition, often referred to as the “Festival of Lights,” symbolizes the rededication of the holy temple by the small group of Jews known as the Maccabees. While there are many traditions surrounding Hanukkah, here are three of the most significant.
The menorah, a nine-branched candelabrum, is the sacred symbol of Hanukkah. During the eight-day holiday, blessings are said as candles are lit. The candles are arranged in a candelabra with a shamash (servant) in the center; the shamash is lit first and then used to light one candle on the first night of Hanukkah, two on the second night, and so on. On the final night, all eight candles are lit, representing the miracle of the oil.
Throughout Hanukkah, fried foods are enjoyed to commemorate the miracle of the oil. In Eastern Europe, latkes—potato pancakes fried in oil—are traditional. Today, many Jews throughout the world serve latkes or jelly doughnuts to honor this tradition.
Gifts and Gelt
As a Jewish holiday, many Hanukkah traditions involve gift giving. Often, gelt (chocolate money) is given to children in small satchels or put in dreidels—the four-sided Hanukkah toy. Children also enjoy playing dreidel, a game that uses the dreidel to win gelt or other prizes.
Hanukkah is a meaningful holiday, celebrated for centuries and holding much importance to many cultures. The traditions of candle lighting, the giving of gifts and gelt, and the eating of latkes have all become time-honored practices that help create lasting memories.
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Last update 2023-11-26. Price and product availability may change.