A Few Ways to Light Up Hanukkah


Samantha Gitlin

The menorah is the central tradition of celebrating Hanukkah, with eight candles representing eight nights. Those who celebrate the holiday light a candle each night surrounded by family.

Samantha Gitlin, Copy Editor

It’s that time of year again. The holidays are in full bloom. Christmas music plays throughout stores. Christmas trees are decorated in people’s homes. And best of all, holiday deals are in action. But wait, something is missing. Wasn’t there another holiday during this time? Oh yeah, no one can forget about Hanukkah… also spelled Chanukah. 

To celebrate the miracle of lights, here are a few steps to take to make the holiday extra special.

Step one, use the correct terms when addressing Hanukkah items. For example, a potato pancake is actually called a latka. Although people may question what in the world is a latka, it is the same thing as a potato pancake. They are meant to symbolize the miracle of the oil lasting for eight days. If you didn’t know the full story of Hanukkah, you would not know that oil meant to last one day actually lasted to light a candle for eight days. So, the latkes, which are fried in oil, are eaten to represent this special event.

Another example is the word “dreidel.” Dreidels are spinners used to play Hanukkah games. They have four Hebrew letters on them representing the phrase “a great miracle happened there.”  Each letter corresponds with an action related to giving or taking “money” from a pot. Real money can be used or gelt, which is the last example. Gelt is a chocolate coin used in these games. They are a tasty treat to sweeten the holiday. 

Step two, light the candles every night surrounded by family. There is no point to celebrating Hanukkah if you are not going to light the menorah. The menorah has eight spots for candles that symbolize each night of Hanukkah. There is one more spot for the candle called the shamash that is positioned higher than the other candles. You use this candle to light the other ones in order of what night it is. You start with the current night and work backwards. In order to experience this special event, saying the prayers with family and celebrating makes it even more amazing. A nice family dinner often follows the candle lighting, while you enjoy the flickering light.

Step three, give back during the holiday. To some people, their favorite part of the holiday is opening a present each night. Unlike Christmas, kids don’t get to open all of their presents in one morning. They get to open a few presents (normally one) after lighting the menorah each night. In some families, the holiday is just as much about giving back as it is about receiving. They give up one or more nights of Hanukkah to give gifts back to their community. That way everyone — no matter where they come from — is able to experience opening a gift on the holiday.