Happy Hanukkah! In 2021, Hanukkah begins on November 28th and lasts through December 6th. While some Hanukkah traditions may have fallen by the wayside in recent years, this is the year to bring them back and celebrate the light in our world.
The Miracle of Hanukkah
The celebration of Hanukkah dates back to the recovery of Jerusalem and the rededication of the Second Temple in 167 BCE.
The Maccabees led a revolt against the occupying Syrian-Greeks, who had desecrated the Second Temple’s eternal light. During the battle, one day’s supply of oil kept the menorah lit in the temple for eight days, until more oil could be procured. The Hanukkah menorah is lit for eight nights to celebrate that miracle and the triumph of light over darkness.
6 Hanukkah Traditions for 2021
Nowadays, families celebrate the eight days of Hanukkah by lighting the menorah, eating foods fried in oil, playing games and giving gifts. It’s a holiday typically celebrated at home with close family and friends.
But aside from lighting the menorah, spinning the dreidel and passing out Hanukkah Gelt, what Hanukkah traditions can help to bring your family closer this year?
Reconnect With Family
The Talmud mentions a “candle for each man and his household,” encouraging us to celebrate the festival at home and with our families. Make this the year that your family stays true to that commandment, setting aside time to catch up and reconnect with loved ones. The eight nights of Hanukkah are a special opportunity to reconnect outside of the hustle and bustle of daily life that can pull us apart. Each of the following Hanukkah traditions can also be done with family and loved ones to make them that much more memorable.
Attend Community Events
For many, family means more than relations. It includes a close-knit community brought together by strong Jewish faith! And there’s always something to do in the St. Louis Jewish community — especially when it comes to Jewish holidays.
Some of our favorite community events and programs celebrating Hanukkah include:
- Light Up the Jewish Early Childhood Centers for Hanukkah
- 11th Annual Brothers Lazaroff Hanukkah Hullabaloo
- Chanukah on Main Street
- First Night, First Light
You can find even more opportunities to connect and celebrate with the Jewish community in St. Louis by exploring JBuzzSTL.
Cook Traditional Recipes
Nothing brings a family together faster than delicious food to enjoy. This year, let the family bonding extend to the cooking, too. Cooking traditional recipes is a Hanukkah tradition that won’t soon be forgotten. These recipes are sure to be family favorites!
Sing Hanukkah Songs
Music has long been a popular Hanukkah tradition, but does your family still join in song? Whether you’re singing around the menorah or setting the mood for an evening of games and gifts, Hanukkah music is a great way to celebrate together. Bring back old favorites like “Ma’oz Tzur” (“Rock of Ages”) and “I Have a Little Dreidel,” or give your Hanukkah playlist a modern twist.
Worship as a Family
While many Hanukkah traditions take place at home rather than in the synagogue, it’s still a great time to come together to worship as a family. Whether you join your congregation in person or virtually, taking part in a service during Hanukkah 2021 can help you and your loved ones strengthen your faith and connect with your greater Jewish community through the festival celebrations.
It’s customary to give gifts or money to family and friends to celebrate Hanukkah. Giving back to the community is another excellent way to celebrate the spirit of the holiday and help to make it a happy time of year for other families, too.
Consider supporting the Jewish Federation of St. Louis and its work to preserve and enhance Jewish life this Hanukkah. You might also volunteer your time individually or as a family to give back to and connect with your Jewish community.
No matter which Hanukkah traditions you choose to celebrate with this year, we wish you the happiest of holidays. Hanukkah Sameach!