Although I’m not Jewish, I’ve experienced my fair share of Hanukkah celebrations—largely due to my Jewish best friends, but also because in the neighborhood I grew up, Jewish people were the majority—those weird people with the tree and the lights hanging up, well, we were the minority. I remember hearing my friends talk about the eight nights of celebration. Every day they came to school with some cool new toy or gadget—needless to say, I was envious. At the time, I didn’t really get that the season of giving really wasn’t about receiving (even though if there’s a giver, there has to be a receiver). What I love about the holiday season is that all people seem to have traditions no matter what religion they follow or practice, where they’re from or what age they are; the season brings joy, goodwill, and, depending on geographics of course, snow. Everything seems magical.
I love watching the lighting of the Menorah, and especially seeing the progression of lights, night after night. However, every time I saw a Menorah as a child, I was always confused—there are nine candles, but eight nights; I thought, “maybe it’s like a birthday cake. You always have one candle for good luck. OR someone miscounted.”
Celebrations, traditions and food go hand-in-hand with each other, so I have to mention that latkes and matza ball soup are some of my favorite parts about Hanukkah. The fish, they could stay on the table, but I devoured the potato pancakes, soup and bread with joy. Let’s not forget about the macaroons and the challah—if you’ve never had it, you’re missing out.
“Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, I made it out of clay, and when it’s dry and ready a dreidel I shall play.” I didn’t realize not every child learned this song in school until I went to college. Spinning the dreidel as a child was a fond memory of every Hanukkah celebration I attended. I don’t speak Yiddish or read Hebrew (therefore, I don’t know what the letters mean), but the game was easy enough to pick up. I always felt accomplished when I got the dreidel spinning. The more games you won, the more gelt you collected: that is (chocolate) gold coins.
Among my favorite of all Hanukkah traditions is the Hanukkah Song. Although, I again envied my friends because it seemed like you had to be Jewish in order to be famous (or be O.J. Simpson). But anytime I hear the words, “put on your yarmulke, here comes Hanukkah,” I’m filled with as much Holiday spirit as I am when I hear Christmas music—partly because the music evokes memories from the Hanukkah celebrations I’ve been fortunate enough to attend.
But my FAVORITE Hanukkah tradition is watching the Rugrats Chanuka Special where Tommy teaches Phil, Lil and Chucky about the “Macababies.” Any 90s kid, no matter what religion they subscribe to, can appreciate this Hanukkah favorite. (And yes, there are a few different spellings of Hanukkah).
I’m thankful my friends shared their religion and traditions with me; I didn’t feel so left out as a child because they included me in their celebrations. I guess that’s a perk about eight nights of celebration, you get to spend the holiday with a variety of different people.
Happy Hanukkah Everybody!
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://wpmaster.sjadv.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2013/02/Cassandra-Bremer-Our-Space-Photo-e1402061863316.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Cassandra is a Content Manager and Developer at SJG. She earned her BA from Fontbonne University in 2011. Outside the office, she enjoys an active, healthy and well-rounded lifestyle including reading, writing, running, golfing, watching films, listening to music, taking photographs, and consuming media and social media.