Hanukkah – a Jewish festival – is also spelled Hannukah and Chanukah. The festival usually falls in December. It has just started this year. It’s known as the Festival of Lights and is a joyous and festive time for Jewish families. Here are some key points about Hanukkah:
- Hanukkah lasts for eight nights and days, beginning on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev.
- Historical Background:
- Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem during the Maccabean Revolt in the 2nd century BCE.
- Menorah Lighting:
- A central tradition of Hanukkah is the lighting of the menorah, a special candelabrum with nine branches. One candle is lit each night, along with the central candle called the “shamash.”
- Candles and Blessings:
- Special blessings are recited while lighting the candles. The shamash is used to light the other candles, adding one more each night until all eight are lit.
- Dreidel Game:
- Children often play a game with a spinning top called a dreidel. The dreidel has Hebrew letters on each side, forming the acronym for “A Great Miracle Happened There.”
- Gift Giving:
- Gifts are exchanged, especially small tokens or “gelt” (chocolate coins). This represents the tradition of giving and receiving during the holiday.
- Traditional Foods:
- Foods fried in oil are commonly enjoyed during Hanukkah, such as potato latkes (pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly-filled doughnuts).
- Family and Community:
- Hanukkah is a time for families and communities to come together. Special meals, songs, and games are shared, fostering a sense of togetherness.
- Symbolism of Light:
- The lighting of the menorah symbolises the miracle of the oil that lasted eight days when there was only enough oil for one day in the rededication of the Temple.
- Celebration of Freedom:
- Hanukkah is a celebration of religious freedom and the victory of the Maccabees over religious persecution.
In many ways Hanukkah is similar to the Christian Christmas festival with families getting together, exchanging gifts, singing special songs, eating special foods etc.
Here are some games and activity suggestions: 11 Hanukkah Classroom Games and Activities for Elementary Students
Activity Village offers: Hanukkah for Kids
Artsycraftsymum offers 20 Heartwarming Hannukah Crafts for Kids