How to Celebrate Hanukkah

Many non-Jews and even some Jews end up confusing the Jewish holiday Hanukkah with Christmas, referring to it as Jewish Christmas. However, Hanukkah is much older than Christmas and has its own significance.


  • 1

    You first need to learn and understand why you are celebrating Hanukkah. The holiday is celebrated to honour the victory of faith and courage over military might. A band of Israelites stood up against the Syrian king Antiochus almost 2,500 years ago for their right to be Jewish. This band of Israelites, known as the Maccabees, drove out the invaders who had invaded and defiled Temple of Jerusalem. The Maccabees found a drop of oil during their campaign to free the Temple, which they used to light a candle. The oil was so less that it could have only lasted for one day. Miraculously, the oil lasted for eight days. The courage shown by the band of Israelites and the miracle that lasted for eight days is remembered and honoured during the eight days of Hanukkah.

  • 2

    Once you understand why you are celebrating Hanukkah, proceed to lighting the Hanukkah (menorah), a nine-branched candelabrum. Light the candle in the middle, known as the “shamash,” on Hanukkah eve and use it to light the last candle that you put on the Hanukkah. Continue the ritual for the next eight days. Remember to recite the blessing while lighting the candles.

  • 3

    Do not forget that Hanukkah is a time of celebrations, so enjoy the holiday with your family especially kids, by playing dreidel. It is a four-sided top that is used to play a gambling game with small nuts or candles. Each side of the dreidel has a letter on it, telling players whether to take out the candles or put it in. The game finishes when one person has all the candles, or if they are all eaten, as is the case when playing with kids.

  • 4

    Just like other Jewish holidays, Hanukkah has its own traditional food. Be sure to put Latkes, hamentaschen, matzoh, etc. on the food table for your family. You can try exploring the Jewish cookbook to have even a greater variety of food on the dinner table on the eight days of Hanukkah.

  • 5

    Give small gifts to children on each night of Hanukkah such as chocolate coins or a 5 dollar blank cheque that they can  give to a charity of their choice.

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