Girls celebrating Hanukkah

What do you know about Hanukkah? Read this article to find out what people do at this special time!


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Hanukkah is a Jewish festival that is celebrated for eight days. It is also called the Festival of Lights. It starts on a different day every year, usually in December. People celebrate with different traditions, food, games and gifts.


The biggest tradition of Hanukkah is lighting the menorah. This is a special candle holder with nine candles (or lamps). There is one candle for every day of the festival, and the ninth candle is used to light the other ones. On the first day, you light one candle. On the second day, you light two candles, and you continue until the last day, when you light all the candles. People do this in the evening, and then they put the menorah at a door or a window so that you can see it from outside.

Family and friends

Hanukkah is a festival that people celebrate with family and friends, often in each other's homes. They sing a lot of songs together, for example when they are lighting the candles. Many songs are in Hebrew, but some people also sing in other languages. They eat oily food (food with a lot of oil) and play games together.


Oil is an important part of Hanukkah, and so people eat all kinds of food that you make with oil. In some places, people make latke, fried potato pancakes – that they eat with apple sauce or sour cream. Another popular food is sufganiyot, which are doughnuts filled with strawberry jam. 


It's a tradition to play games with your friends and family at Hanukkah. One game is played with a dreidel. This is a small toy with four different sides that you spin. When the dreidel stops spinning, you have to give or take some money, depending on which side of the dreidel you can see. But it's not usually real money! The 'money' can be things like chocolate money, nuts, dried fruit or sweets.


Lots of families give presents during the festival, especially to children. These are usually games that the whole family can play together or books and other small gifts. Many children get some real money too, from their parents or other members of their family. Often they decide to give some of the money to charity.

So, for many Jewish people around the world, Hanukkah is a very happy holiday that families and friends celebrate together in different ways. Happy Hanukkah!


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Do people celebrate Hanukkah where you live? Is there a special time of year when you light candles? Tell us about it!

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