Hanukkah: Hanukkah for beginners


Do we do anything different on the Sabbath?

On Friday, you must light the Hanukkah candles prior to sundown. Make sure the candles used in the menorah can burn past the start of nightfall.

Why are menorahs placed in front of windows?

Part of the tradition of this holiday is to proclaim the miracle of the lights to the world. Just be careful not to place lit candles near any flammable materials, and always make sure candles are put out before leaving the room.

What other traditions follow the lighting of the menorah?

Common traditions include singing Hanukkah songs, such as "Hanerot Hallalu" (Those Candles) and Ma'oz Tzur (Rock of Strength) and eating special "oily" delicacies such as latkes (potato pancakes) with applesauce and sour cream, or jelly doughnuts!

At Hanukkah it is traditional to eat good food, talk of the miracle of lights, and do good deeds for others. It is also cumstomary to play a game of dreidel, which involves a spinning top with a different Hebrew letter printed on each side. More recent traditions include the exchange of gifts and money, or "gelt," typically given as a reward to children for diligent religious studies. Some parents prefer to give their children chocolate coins wrapped in shiny gold foil.

While there are many Hanukkah traditions, it is fun to invent your own meaningful family customs. Whether ancient or modern, serious or hilarious, your unique traditions can serve as the glue of family togetherness!

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