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Hanukkah: The Festival of Lights

By Gail Leino

Also called Hanukkah and Chanukah, Hanukkah is one of the most important Jewish holidays. It takes place every year in mid to late December. Though the date varies on the western calendar, it always begins on the 25th day of Kislev in the Hebrew calendar. The celebration begins with the menorah, which holds nine candles. Eight candles represent the eight days of Hanukkah, and the ninth, the Shamash, is used to light the other candles.

The Hanukkah tradition recognizes oil as one of the central themes of Hanukkah, and this is reflected in the foods enjoyed on the holiday, foods like latkes, or potato pancakes, sufganiyot (jelly-filled donuts) Cheese Blintzes, and cheeses and dairy products are the staples of the Hanukkah diet, so obviously that would be incorporated into any Hanukkah celebration.

Supplies for traditional Hanukkah games such as the Dreidel Game, in which participants sit in a circle, and are given twenty candy drops (peppermints, special foil-covered chocolates that look like coins, or even pennies) and they spin the Dreidel, a toy that looks like a spinning top, which, alluding to the miracle of Hanukkah, have letters on each side:

Nes (N-miracle), Gadol (G-Great), Haya (H-happened), and Sham (S-there, meaning in Israel).

Each player gets equal amounts of candy or coins. Each player places one in the center, or “pot” and each player will take turns spinning the dreidel. If it lands on Nes, the player gets nothing. If it lands on Gadol, the player gets all the pot, and each player again contributes a candy to allow the game to go on. If it lands on Hey, the player collects half the pot, and everyone contributes again. If it lands on Sham, the player puts one of their candies back into the pot. The player with all the candies, wins the game. If time is a constraint, just give a specific amount of time, and the one with the most pieces wins.

The most important thing about Hanukkah is celebrating the miracle of the menorah, which burned for eight days on enough oil for only one day. That miracle is the basis for the festival of lights, called Hanukkah. Each day of Hanukkah, a candle is lit, progressing until the festival of lights is complete, with all eight candles burning, and one and all giving thanks for the miracles God has given in their lives.

Mrs. Party... Gail Leino is the internet's leading authority on selecting the best possible party supplies (http://partysupplieshut.com), using proper etiquette and manners while also teaching organizational skills and fun facts. The Party Supplies Hut has a huge selection of free party games, coloring pages, word find, word scramble, printable baby and bridal shower activities. Hanukkah Party Games (Hanukkah-fun.com), holiday party planning tips, trivia, history, recipes, printable activities and free coloring pages.

back to Hanukkah index

 

 

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