Hanukkah is also known as the Festival of Lights. While considered one of the more “minor” Jewish holidays, it is one of the most beloved. This year, Hanukkah runs from December 18-26. Unlike Christmas, the dates change each year as it follows the Jewish calendar.
Hanukkah is the commemoration of the rededication of the Second Temple. The story goes that as the Maccabees entered the Temple to reclaim it as their own from the Greeks, they lit an oil burning candle. They sent a messenger to secure more oil as all they had would last for only one night. However, the oil miraculously lasted eight nights. This was the exact time it took for the messenger to return with more supply of oil.
While there are many widely known Hanukkah traditions such as lighting the menorah each night in commemoration of the miracle, playing dreidel, and eating latkes (potato pancakes), here are some of my family’s favorite additional ways to celebrate!
Reading as a Family
A favorite story in our interfaith home is “Shmelf the Elf.” Shmelf works in Santa’s workshop in the List Checking Department. In disbelief, he finds a number of children’s names left off Santa’s good list and is determined to find out why. He discovers the celebration of Hanukkah and what Jewish children around the world are doing to celebrate.
If you would like to continue to enjoy Jewish-themed books throughout the year, be sure to sign up for PJ Library. PJ Library mails books at no cost to families who celebrate Jewish values with children from ages 0-12. If no one in your family identifies as Jewish, you can still take advantage of PJ Library by exploring their online resources.
Listening to Music
This time of year, traditional Christmas music fills the airwaves. But in our home, we play music by some of our favorite Jewish musicians. Namely, the Maccabeats! The famous A Capella group is comprised of Orthodox Jewish male performers who have found the perfect marriage in their music between Jewish humor and ideology. Plus, their songs are extremely catchy! Listen to the album A Maccabeats Hanukkah by the Maccabeats and my personal favorite song, “Candelight”.
Attending a Menorah Lighting
On December 21, the city of Royal Oak will be hosting a free Hanukkah celebration from 4:30-6:00 p.m. You can see a giant Lego menorah being lit and there will be kid-friendly activities including ice dreidel carving, a fire juggling show, food, and more.
The following night on December 22, meet in the city of Huntington Woods at Scotia Park for the 3rd annual menorah lighting hosted by Chabad at 6:00 p.m. Enjoy hot latkes, donuts, and a fire show!
The idea of tikkun olam translates to “repair the world.” During this miraculous holiday, sitting down with family and discussing ways we can light up the world with good deeds is in spirit of the Festival of Lights.
A wonderful event to participate in is Moonbeams for Sweet Dreams at Beaumont Royal Oak, every evening at 8:00 p.m., until Christmas Eve. This annual event started in 2017 as a way to make pediatric patients in the hospital feel less alone. So bring your family and a flashlight, and spread the magic of light this Hanukkah season!
No matter how you choose to celebrate, Hanukkah is a time to let your light shine as bright as possible and remember the true miracle of the story of Hanukkah.