Hanukkah is a special time of year for those who celebrate its religious and spiritual customs. This Jewish celebration marks the victory of the Maccabees over the Seleucid Empire. Celebrants either remember these ancient events or celebrate simple traditions such as gift-giving and playing the dreidel game. Whether you want to wish someone who celebrates Hanukkah a joyful holiday or learn more about this tradition, here are some ideas on what to say in order to join in the festivity.
A Traditional Hanukkah Greeting
When meeting someone who is observing the festival, it’s typically appropriate to say something along the lines of “Happy Hanukkah,” “Have a blessed Hanukkah,” “I wish you joy this Hanukkah,” or “Happy Chag Sameach,” which is Hebrew for “happy festival.” Other variations include “Chag Urim Sameach,” which means “joyful festival of lights,” or “Kosher Chanukah Sameach,” which roughly translates to “a happy holiday marked with proper Jewish behavior.” If you’re feeling especially festive, there are even more creative ways to greet your friends and family for Hanukkah, such as “Festival of Lights, let the candles ignite,” “May your eight nights be bright,” and “Let’s make latkes and light the menorah, may your Hanukkah be bright like the stars.”
Ways to Celebrate At Home
If you are not able to join someone in person but still want to take part in the holiday, there are several ways to do so:
- Send a Hanukkah Card. Season’s greeting cards are available that feature a variety of festive Hanukkah symbols and phrases. There are even blank cards that you can personalize yourself.
- Give a Gift. Give a gift that has special meaning and can be used throughout the year, such as a religious book or inspirational jewelry. You can even give chocolate coins, known as gelt, which represent the conqueror’s tribute.
- Share a Special Recipe. Jewish recipes are often made with traditional ingredients like applesauce, potato, latkes, or dough. If you have a special recipe that comes to mind, consider sending it over or sharing it online.
- Plan a Virtual Celebration Together. Schedule a video chat, exchange recipes, or even start a group blog. With the right setup, you can even have a Hanukkah lighting ritual or game of dreidel online.
Why Do We Celebrate?
When asked why do we celebrate Hanukkah, it’s important to share the story of what happened during this time. According to the narrative, after defeating their oppressors, the Maccabees had to light the menorah in the temple but only had enough oil for one night. Miraculously the oil lasted for 8 nights, allowing the menorah to remain lit the entire time. This is why we light candles for eight nights, each night the light is said to symbolize a re-affirmation of the Jewish faith’s commitment to freedom and independence.
In sum, by learning about or wishing a joyful Hanukkah to someone who celebrates, you’re taking part in the spirit of the holiday. Whether you’re with them in person or not, every kind gesture, gift and thought shared can be a part of the happy celebration.
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Last update 2023-11-27. Price and product availability may change.