The eight-night Hanukkah festival, which usually falls in December (this year it is on December 15, 2006) and frequently coincides with Christmas, offers an appealing antidote to winter's gloom. The blaze of the candles burning in the menorah (an eight-branch candelabra, with a special place for the shamash candle, which lights all the others), the sharing of potato pancakes with friends and relatives, and the exchange of presents create special family memories.
Hanukkah celebrates the victory of Judah Maccabee and his followers over the Syrian King, Antiochus. This king had denied the Jews their religious freedom, and ordered his soldiers to destroy the Temple-which Judah Maccabee and his army restored. While cleaning the Temple, there was only enough oil to light the lamp for one day. But it went on to burn for eight days, which is the miracle Hanukkah commemorates.
Fun And Games
This is a fun holiday that children embrace. Besides the food and gifts, children enjoy the games and songs that are part of the Hanukkah tradition. You can teach your child to play dreidel, which is played with a small top decorated with a different Hebrew letter on each of its four sides. Children like to play for pennies or peanuts. It's customary for children to play a game of dreldel while the candles are burning in the menorah. And don't forget a plentiful supply of Hanukkah gelt, small chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil paper that add to the festivities.
To extend the celebration, some families invite other families with children in the same age group to light menorahs, play dreidel, and exchange gifts. It's also fun to make latkes (potato-pancakes) together with other families, where the children can peel potatoes and cook up the fragrant dish.
Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics in Child Development and Education
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.