Hanukkah – The Festival of Lights

Oh Hanukkah, Oh, Hanukkah
Come light the menorah
Come to our party
We’ll all dance the hora
Gather ’round the table
We’ll give you a treat,
Dreidels to play with and latkes to eat

I love Hanukkah! I love the food! I love the menorah! I love that it brings family and friends together!

Allan is Jewish. I’m not. When we married we decided to celebrate the holidays of both our religions.

Holiday Fusion! Each year we display our menorah (sometimes more than one following Ashkenazi tradition) in a place of prominence and we put up a Christmas tree and hang decorations we have collected together over the years.


Hanukkah celebrates many traditions including lighting the menorah, eating fried foods (it’s only for eight nights), playing dreidel, singing songs, and remembering the Maccabees and the miracle that occurred for eight nights in the temple long, long ago. And eight nights of gifts.

Our favorite Hanukkah recipes are included below.

Lighting the Menorah

To celebrate Hanukkah we light the menorah to commemorate the miracle of Hanukkah.

A long, long time ago Israel was ruled by King Antiochus IV. Under King Antiochus, the practice of Judaism was completely abolished. The Jewish people were angry and formed a group of warriors called the Maccabees, to take back their Temple and defend their religious freedom. The Maccabees (Maccabees is taken from the Hebrew word for “hammer”) fought hard and drove King Antiochus and his army out of Jerusalem and reclaimed the temple in Jerusalem. To rededicate the temple they needed oil to light the menorah but only had enough oil for one night. Miraculously, the oil lasted for eight days and nights.

When we are celebrating with older children every child has their own menorah.

Fried Foods

The traditional foods consumed during the Hanukkah holiday are symbolic of the events being celebrated. Most of these traditional foods are fried in oil, symbolic of the oil that lasted eight days, latkes and sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts.)


We eat foods made with cheese of honor Judith who went into the enemy camp, plied the general with wine and cheese, and then beheaded him. Mind you, Judith’s story occurred centuries before.

Games and Songs

Dreidel is really the only Hanukkah game. Any number of people can play. Everyone puts gelt in the pot and takes turns spinning the dreidel.

Hanukkah songs are fun for everyone. A few of our favorites are Oh Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah and I Have A Little Dreidel. And not to be forgotten, “The Chanukah Song” by Adam Sandler.

Eight Nights of Gifts

When Clifton was younger Hanukkah revolved around food, family, friends, and eight days of presents! Traditionally Hanukkah did not include presents, but because the holiday falls so close to Christmas a new tradition began of buying presents for children.


One of our traditions has always been baking and decorating sugar cookies (or shortbread) in the shapes of Hanukkah.


Challah – Your favorite store

Shelley’s Stuffed Mushroomshttps://shelleylevine.com/shelleys-stuffed-mushrooms/

Matzo Ball Soup – (I use Manischewitz and Allan loves it) When I am serving soup for a larger, more casual gathering (like Hanukkah) I will serve the soup as an appetizer in a cup. Depending on the occasion I will use a ceramic cup with a handle or a 12-ounce disposable coffee cup with a sleeve.

Latkes – Keep it Simple. Linda’s Gourmet Latkes. I usually order the large if I’m serving them as a side with the meal. https://lindasgourmetlatkes.com/

Clifton Favorite Brisket https://shelleylevine.com/cliftons-favorite-brisket/

Sweet Dairy Noodle Kugel https://shelleylevine.com/sweet-dairy-noodle-kugel/

Doughnut Holes – Again – Keep it Simple. Dunkin Donuts Jelly Munchkins. Call the day before.

Hanukkah Cutout Cookies – These I make. https://shelleylevine.com/shortbread-cutout-cookies/

Sometimes mini cupcakes, cheesecake, babka, and rugelach make an appearance.

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