Hanukkah Traditions

What is Hanukkah? 

Hanukkah is a Jewish celebration commemorating the re-dedication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Also known as the Festival of Lights, it’s observed for eight nights and days. While the actual start date shifts from year to year, it generally begins in the period time after Thanksgiving. While it is considered one of the more minor holidays in the Jewish faith, it is still one of the most widely celebrated. One of the biggest icons and instruments of the holiday is the menorah.

kids with hanukkah cookies

What is a menorah?

The menorah is a candelabrum with nine branches. Each night, a new branch is lit using a central candle and is allowed to burn all the way down. Every successive night, a new set of candles is placed into the menorah corresponding to the number of nights being celebrated. While the candles are lit, a prayer is spoken in Hebrew.

mother and daughter lighting a menorah

How do people celebrate? 

The ceremony part of Hanukkah is celebrated by the lighting of the menorah and reciting of prayer. Families will often exchange small gifts each night as well as play traditional games like dreidel (a spinning top-style item) and consume traditional Jewish foods.

two children playing dreidel