We Jews have so many holidays that it’s hard to get too excited about any one, but Chanukah has been put on a pedestal by many as if to say: “Hey, we have a holiday where it’s snowy and bright, too! We get presents, too. Yeah, we even light candles!! See? Chanukah is awesome. It’s SO awesome, even more awesome than…”
The truth is that Chanukah is a pretty minor holiday as Jewish holidays go, but it’s a really great holiday. Despite the fact that we’re remembering a horrible war where our synagogues were destroyed by some major Anti-Semites, we manage to have a pretty amazing celebration that lasts eight glorious nights.
Regardless, it’s hard to be a Jewish parent in a country that mostly celebrates Christmas. Many Jews are offended when people automatically assume and say “Merry Christmas!” as a greeting without considering the fact that others don’t celebrate.
And as hard as it is to be a Jewish parent, it’s even harder to be a Jewish kid around Christmastime, i.e. being surrounded by others who have Christmas trees and lots of presents (and are expecting more from a man in a big red suit). It’s also tough to try not to equate Chanukah with Christmas.
I really want my kids to grow up knowing how amazing Chanukah can be. Even though we’ll likely celebrate Christmas most years, too, I don’t want them thinking that it’s a lame holiday that happens to fall near Christmas, or conversely, another excuse to get presents.
I decided to ask my niece and nephew about their favorite parts of Chanukah and they came up with lots of them!
Family Togetherness 1 of 8"Being with everyone."
Playing games with other kids 2 of 8Dreidel can be a lot of fun, especially if you play with chocolate pieces instead of beans.
An Excuse To Eat Fried Food 3 of 8"I love the latkes! And the Sofganiot (jelly donuts)!"
Eight Nights 4 of 8"We have eight nights (of presents)." Yeah, I'd like not to emphasize the gift thing, but when you're eight, it's a little hard.
Prayer in song 5 of 8"I love to sing the prayers." Associating praying and singing is positive and meaningful
Savoring one gift at a time. 6 of 8When you get tons of gifts at once, it's hard to enjoy them all. If you stretch it out, you can play with each one separately and give yourself time to enjoy it.
Controlled Pyromania 7 of 8When else can a 3 year-old hold a lit candle?
Designing the menorah night after night. 8 of 8Part of the pleasure of the $.59 box of candles is coming up with different patterns each night.
Do you have any more reasons to add?
Chanukah cover: Flickr/scazon
Menorah fire: Flickr/RonAlmog
Pattern Menorah: Flickr/slgckgc
Jelly Donuts: Flickr/Photos by Mavis
Singing: Flickr/Jewish Agency For Israel