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Getting Ready for Chanukah!

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Not to bring down anyone's Santa's or Christmas spirit, but my family is Jewish; so, we don't celebrate Christmas. Many of our Jewish friends don't celebrate Christmas, but still do the whole Santa custom, as it was always done in Russia. We don't celebrate or practice any of those customs. My husband insists on sticking to the Jewish holidays only. And frankly, I don't mind. I like to focus on our festive holiday season in September and October, and this time of the year, my kids are anxious with anticipation for the big beautiful festival of light, Chanukah (a.k.a. Hanukkah). 

So, what is Chanukah? Chanukah is an eight-day festival of light that commences on the eve of the 25th of the Jewish month of Kislev according to the Jewish calendar, which falls sometime between November and December, depending on the year. Its history and traditions date back to more than twenty-one centuries ago when the Holy Land was ruled by the Greeks. At that time, the Greeks robbed the Jews and their property, as well as set up idols (which is against the Jewish religion). No one could stand up against the Greeks, until Mattityahu and his sons defeated them and drove them from the Holy Land. When this small group of victorious Jews tried to light the Temple's menorah (the seven branched candelabrum) to celebrate, they could find only a tiny drop of oil, a one-day supply which miraculously lasted eight whole days, until they were able to find and prepare new oil.

The Chanukah lights remind us of the great miracle and defeat against the Greeks. Chanukah customs include:
  • lighting the Chanukiah (the nine-branched candelabrum used especially for Chanukah)
  • eating latkes (potato pancakes)
  • eating sufganiot (doughnuts baked in oil) - traditionally, it's customary to eat oily foods on Chanukah
  • playing with the dreidel (a spinning top inscribed with Hebrew letters)
  • giving Chanukah gelt, gifts of money, to children - during Chanukah it's customary to give money to children, to teach to give some of it to charity

I absolutely love this holiday because you get to do so many different things and activities with the kids. I bought a special Chanukah curtain this year ($10 at the Judaica store) to decorate the doorway, a few dreidels and Chanukah stickers which my boys loved putting on the windows.


We used dreidel garlands I had from the years before, and made DIY artsy decorations by colouring Chanukah printables with the boys. I also take the time to read Chanukah stories to my kids about the great miracle, sing Chanukah songs and play dreidel. And, that's not all! I sought out some dreidel and menorah shaped cookie cutters this year, and plan on baking Chanukah cookies with my boys for the eve of Chanukah.

And, there is more! I would like to share this amazing wooden Chanukah set from KidKraft (a brand I really like) that my boys absolutely love and can play with it forever. We've had this set for a few years now (available from for $50 or the Judaica store).

Lastly, on the eve of Chanukah, my kids will enjoy receiving their special Chanukah presents, including some Chanukah gelt in the form of gold and silver chocolate coins:).

Now, let's talk about the dreidel. What is a dreidel? A dreidel (or a sevivon) is a spinning top. Its name comes from the Yiddish word 'Drey' meaning 'to spin'. There are four Hebrew letters inscribed on a dreidel: 
these letters stand for the Hebrew words "Nes Gadol Haya Sham = A great miracle happened there."

How to play the dreidel game? 
Each player begins with an equal number of gold coins (I recommend using chocolate coins:). At the beginning, each player puts in one coin into the center (the pot). Each player then takes his/her turn to spin the dreidel. If the dreidel lands on gimmel, it means you take all the coins, nun means you get nothing, hay means you take half, and shin means you have to add a coin to the pot.

For the complete story on Chanukah and its observances, please click on the link below:

Stay tuned for my delicious Chanukah recipes coming soon!

Disclosure: All opinions are my own.

One Response to “ Getting Ready for Chanukah! ”

  1. Awesome game! going to play with the kids :)



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