Whether you’re a newcomer to the Jewish “Festival of Lights,” or you’ve been celebrating it every year for as long as you can remember, Hanukkah (aka Chanukah, pronounced the same way except with extra oomph in that first “h”) couldn’t come at a better time than now.
This year has been one for the ages, and it’s still not over yet. But come along as we explore these eight important aspects of Hanukkah, and we promise there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
1. First off, let’s get lit
Unless you live in Australia (jealous!), the shortest days of the year are upon us this December, which means things might be looking pretty dark right about now. But good thing Hanukkah starts as soon as the sun goes down (like all Jewish holidays), so we can light up that menorah (celebratory candelabra) as early as 4pm in some places. Now that’s our kind of party! Doesn’t it feel good to play with a little bit of fire?
2. We could use some Maccabean bravery – and a Hanukkah miracle
The story of Hanukkah dates back over to 2,000 years ago, when a band of Jewish warriors called the Maccabees defeated their Greek oppressors. The only downside was that the Second Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in the process, leaving only enough oil to light the temple candelabra for one night… except miraculously it lasted for eight nights! And the temple was restored. (Hanukkah translates to “rededication.”) So stop the kvetching and channel those brave Maccabees (? or Maccabeats ?) as you face the rest of this year — and pray for a miracle to get us out of this pandemic.
3. Lay on the fried foods (and no shame about it)
Oil can be used for a lot more than just lighting ancient candles. Most notably — and deliciously — it’s critical for making latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly filled donuts). Maybe you’ve been noshing a little too much this year. After all, those stay-at-home measures have made it nearly impossible to stay out of the kitchen. We get it. But we also get enough guilt year round from our families (and our bathroom scale!) so remember to be kind to yourself and feel free to dig in.
4. Just roll with it
With so much of this year spinning out of control, it almost feels like we’ve been playing dreidel (spinning top game) all year long, except we keep landing on nun (win nothing from the pot) or, even worse, shin (put one of our game pieces into the pot). But let’s put a positive spin on things, shall we? If there’s anything we can take away from this year so far, it’s that there’s nothing we truly can’t handle. Sooner or later, it’ll be our turn to play again anyway and we’re bound to land on a gimel (win!) one of these days.
5. Low frills decoration
Honestly, just a couple of blue streamers, your menorah and you’re all set. While we don’t mean to throw shade at Christmas trees, just putting it out there that with climate change devastating our planet in more ways than we can count, the last thing we need are millions of chopped down trees… or Hanukkah bushes (which many don’t consider all that kosher anyway!).
6. Family time, without the schlepping
We’re advised not to head to each other’s houses this year, and instead to keep all holiday celebrations as small as possible this year due to the pandemic. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still bring everyone together and show ‘em your cute punim (Yiddish for “face”) on screen. Use our free video celebration generator to send your holiday wishes — or better yet, record a video every night as you light the candles, and our tool will compile them into a megamix to send around to friends and family.
7. Not Jewish? No problem
As any Jewish person will tell you, Hanukkah’s actually not that big of a deal on the Jewish calendar. It’s a minor holiday, relatively speaking, which means just about anyone is welcome to join in. From Berlin to Barcelona, and even Obama at the White House, you can catch all sorts of folks — both Jews and gentiles — passing around the shamash (helper) candle and basking in that Hanukkah glow.
8. Party on and on (x8)
We saved the best for last, which is that Hanukkah is truly the holiday that keeps giving. “Instead of one day of presents, we have eight crazy nights!” as Adam Sandler sang it. Here at The Book of Everyone, we’ve got you covered with unique gifts for the entire family to give at least three of those nights:
- Wise(ish) Words book collection
- The Book of Everyone book collection
- The Map of Everyone personalized maps
So this December 10, get ready to fire up those candles that remind us, as the classic song goes, ‘of days long ago’… or even just remind us of 2019 ?