Hanukkah, a.k.a., the Jewish Festival of Lights, is just around the corner — are you ready to celebrate with your family? This year, it begins on December 18 and runs through December 26, so if you plan on giving small gifts to your children on each night of the holiday, you’ll want to start shopping ASAP.
If you observe both Jewish and Christian holidays, you can have double the fun by hanging colorful ornaments on the tree while eating potato latkes and scallion pancake challah (check out recipes for those and more yummy dishes, here). If you only observe Hanukkah, you can anticipate lots of gift-giving, food-devouring, and games like “Find the Gelt” and “Doughnut on a String.”
What makes this traditional holiday extra appealing are the eight nights of present opening and menorah lighting. Growing up, my brother and I would take turns lighting candles with satisfied glee; I mean, on what other occasion does a kid get the chance to play with fire in the name of religion? Afterward, my mother would run upstairs to snag the “hidden” gifts (we very well knew they were in a kitchen cabinet) that she’d hand-picked for us each night.
Of course, times are different and people no longer have to scramble for oil to light a fire the way the Maccabees did centuries ago, for example. But the tradition of giving Hanukkah gifts wasn’t even established until the 19th century, so rest assured it won’t become archaic anytime soon.
Ahead, our Hanukkah gift guide is filled with toys and activities that your little ones will rush to unwrap.
A version of this story was originally published in November 2019.
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