New Experience #49: Celebrated Hanukkah


celebrated hanukkahOne thing I hope my children will learn in life is that there is wisdom and beauty in all the world’s religions.  Just because we don’t share a common set of beliefs doesn’t mean we don’t share common values with people of other religions.  We live in a diverse area of New Jersey and encounter people of various faiths daily.  I think most of our neighbors are tolerant of other religions, but I want my family to go beyond tolerance.  While tolerance is a positive word, it implies acceptance from a distance.  Understanding comes from learning more about a religion and getting a bit closer to it.  That is exactly what we tried as we completed New Experience #49:  Celebrated Hanukkah.

We are not Jewish, so Hanukkah is a holiday we have never celebrated.  Before I told the kids we were going to celebrate a holiday from a different religion, I did a little research.  Hanukkah is one of the less important Jewish holidays, but because of its proximity to Christmas, it has become very popular and festive.  The traditions surrounding Hanukkah are more religious than many of the secular Christmas traditions, so by celebrating Hanukkah my kids would learn a little bit of Jewish history and religion.

The kids were excited about New Experience #49.  They were curious about what their Jewish friends believe, so I started our celebration by reading The Story of Hanukkah by David Adler to the kids.  Luke was extremely interested in the story because it details the battles between the Maccabees and the Greeks.  Any time Luke can hear stories of war or battles, he is hooked.    In fact, he looked over the fight scenes several times after we read the story and said, “Wow, I’m impressed.”  He couldn’t believe the outnumbered Maccabees won the fight without guns or grenades.

After we read the story, we ate latkes and homemade applesauce, a traditional Hanukkah meal.  The latkes are fried in oil to remind everyone of the oil that the Maccabees burned in the temple for 8 nights.   I am totally in favor of celebrating any holiday in which fried potatoes are part of the tradition!  Leah did not share my opinion.  She ate one latke and a boatload of applesauce.  Luke, who is usually the picky one, ate 4 latkes and asked me to make them more often.

We don’t own a menorah, and I felt it might be sacrilegious to light the candle for Hanukkah because we don’t know the prayers.  So, instead, we looked at the paper menorah Luke brought home from school and talked about its significance.  The kids played a memory game about Hanukkah that Luke made in school while I cleaned up after dinner.

dreidel gameThe best part of our night was playing the Dreidel game.  I bought chocolate coins (called gelt) and we used a dreidel a Jewish friend gave us last year.  We had fun spinning the Dreidel, so we played a few times.  We all liked how the symbols on the Dreidel stand for “A Great Miracle Happened There” to remind us of the Hanukkah story.

The kids had fun celebrating Hanukkah.  They liked the Dreidel game so much that I am sure we will play it again this Hanukkah season.

Luke, Leah, and I wish all of our Jewish readers a very happy Hanukkah!

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About 52BrandNew

I am a single stay at home mom who is determined to live life to its fullest.
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16 Responses to New Experience #49: Celebrated Hanukkah

  1. Pingback: A to Z Hands on History, day 5 | Adventures in MommydomAdventures in Mommydom

  2. Pingback: Learning about Celebrations Other Than Christmas - picklebums.com

  3. Jen Fischer says:

    I LOVE this. What a wonderful way to introduce your child to another religion. I think this is so important and valuable for them.

  4. Pingback: Everything You’ve Always Wanted To Know About Hanukkah But Were Afraid To Ask | Darlene Craviotto

  5. We don’t know anything about Hanukkah either, and we don’t have any Jewish friends! Perhaps one day we’ll be lucky enough to be invited over to celebrate Hanukkah at someone’s house. :D

    • 52BrandNew says:

      Not having Jewish friends sounds like a good reason to try your own celebration :)

      • At least we wouldn’t offend anyone if we effed up? :P I’m just kidding. We have been thinking about that, at least getting some children’s books that show kids preparing for celebrations that are different from our own. I think it’s good to introduce children to the idea that people celebrate in different ways, but that all the celebrations have love and family in common.

  6. I think any efforts to understand the meaning behind the traditions of others is valuable. My husband is Jewish and I feel as though my kids’ experience of living and learning about two faiths will help them practice tolerance throughout their lives.

    • 52BrandNew says:

      It is great for kids to learn acceptance at an early age. It comes naturally to them when they are young. It gets harder and harder as we get set in our ways.

  7. I think trying out a different celebration is a really fun and accessible way for children to learn about a culture that’s different to their own. We’ve enjoyed joining in with Chinese New Year and Eid.

  8. Isil says:

    What a great way to teach choldren about other faiths.You have totally inspired me.

  9. The Monko says:

    This is such a great way to learn about another religion. I have to confess I don’t know anything about Hanukkah. Maybe we could do this next year

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