Since Hanukkah and Christmas are celebrated around the same time, it is only natural that Jewish kids and Christian kids compare their respective holidays: how many presents are given, what of food is eaten and what activities the family will do.
Traditional family-oriented activities for Hanukkah and Christmas
Christmas has tree decorating, carol singing and gift-giving to name a few. Hanukkah has activities similar to Christmas, like gifts and singing holiday songs, but it has unique traditional activities that are done only on Hanukkah.
These activities are all part of the traditions that date back to the origins of the holiday. They are very family-oriented, involving children and grownups alike. The activity that Hanukkah is most well known for is the lighting of the Menorah.
The Menorah is a nine-branched candelabrum, and one light is lit each night, progressing to eight on the final night. In some households, only one menorah is lit, while in others every family member lights their own personal Menorah. This activity involves telling stories and singing songs that were written for the Hanukkah holiday.
The gifts are, for many children, the best part of the holiday. While on Christmas the gifts are given all at once, on Hanukkah they are given on every one of the eight days of the holiday. It can become an activity; to sit near the lit Menorah, hand out gifts to the kids and watch them enjoy their new toys.
Another unique Hanukkah activity is the Dreidel: a four-sided spinning top that children play with for fun or for money. Each of the Dreidels four sides is engraved with a letter, and depending on what letter the Dreidel lands on after being spun, the Dreidel player can win or lose money or foil-covered chocolate coins.
Money, or “Gelt”, is also traditionally given on Hanukkah. it is distributed to children to enhance their enjoyment of the holiday. The amount is usually given in small coins, but for the kids, it’s perfect for playing Dreidel games or buying candy.
Food is and always has been an integral part of many holidays. Hanukkah is no different; in fact, there is a custom of eating foods fried or baked in oil. Fried foods like latkes and sufganiyot, or potato pancakes and jelly donuts, are holiday favorites. Dairy foods, like cheese blintzes, are also on the menu.
All these activities make Hanukkah a favorite holiday among children and adults. They create happy memories and family traditions that will be passed on to the next generations.