Chanukah traditions

December 2018

Chanukah is a holiday filled with traditions including lighting the menorah, playing dreidel and eating latkes and sufganiyot. The Hamilton Jewish News asked some community members what special traditions or Chanukah memories they hold dear. This year, Chanukah begins on the evening of Sunday, Dec. 2 until Monday, Dec. 10. The Hamilton Jewish News wishes you a happy Chanukah and that you may enjoy your special traditions with family and friends. 



“Every year, we hold all eight days, trying to invite a different family each night. We have at least 12 different hanukkiot and we light each one, with all the guests and household members taking turns, going from youngest to oldest. We play dreidel, giving dreidels away to people and then sing songs. We do talk about freedom and assimilation too. I tell the stories of Judith. But the hanukkiot, especially all of them lit on the last night—that’s 108 candles burning—that’s astounding.” 



“We used to have special nights of Chanukah, such as calendar night, book night and CD night. Each of my kids would get that item as a gift. I still send each of them a book and a calendar for Chanukah.”



“At my children’s school in Burlington, they were the only Jewish kids. I would come into their classrooms and tell the Chanukah story. I would bring a hanukkiah and light all eight candles, teach the Dreidel Song and give kids a plastic dreidel. We even made latkes once. We only did it once because it was so labour-intensive and we used up a lot of electricity with four to five frying pans. But we had the aroma of latkes permeating the school.”



Yali says, “My mom makes sufganiot  and when friends come over she asks them if they want to put in  jelly or chocolate filling.” 

Tiki says,  “In Israel, we used to have “Erev Sufganiot”  one night with our extended family. But here, to feel the holiday, we try to host almost every night, except for the Adas Chanukah dinner. It’s also a great opportunity to invite our religious friends, who don’t drive on Shabbat. Last Chanuka I probably made at least 200 sufganiot. From scratch. The real thing, like in Israel.


“Each morning of Chanukah, my kids open up an envelope containing a special activity that we will do that night. Some favourites have been board game night, reading Chanukah books, family dance party and dreidel tournament. We also include donating money to charity, giving away toys or taking food to a food bank.”


“We have a tradtion of taking a family photo on the eighth night of Chanukah. It was really nice to look through the years and see how we have grown together.” 



“Each year, we take over the kitchen two to three weeks in advance and go into production to turn 10 pounds of potatoes into delicious latkes. We also produce dozens of shortbread cookies, cut into Chanukah shapes and decorate them. We package up several and share them with our neighbours and friends. Every year, we purchase enough dreidels for Rebekah to bring to school to share her culture with her classmates. I have gone to school to provide her classmates with a quick education on our holiday stories and how to play the dreidel game. Lastly, we always make sure that we give back to the community either through a donation or volunteering.”