Join us at Triangle Park in downtown Lexington for this year’s Community Hanukkah Celebration! Jewish community organizations will host candle lightings each night at our public menorah.

What Is Hanukkah?

Hanukkah, the Jewish “Festival of Lights,” is a holiday beginning of the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev, which typically falls in November or December. The festival commemorates the recovery of Jerusalem and rededication of the Temple. It is often celebrated with the lighting of the “chanukiah,” or Hanukkah menorah, a candelabra with 9 branches (1 for each night of Hanukkah and 1 used to light them). The telling of the Hanukkah story is paired with traditional foods, games of dreidel and gift exchanges. To learn more about history of the holiday, visit this article by My Jewish Learning.

Hanukkah Traditions

Foods

No Jewish holiday is complete without enjoying some type of delicious food! At Hanukkah, Jewish families enjoy a number of festive dishes, including latkes and sufganiyot. Both dishes are fried in oil, commemorating the miracle of oil burning in the rededicated Temple’s menorah for 8 days – the length of time it took to prepare new oil!

Latkes or potato pancakes, are often made of grated potatoes and onions and fried to crispy perfection. Many Jews eat them with sour cream and/or apple sauce. Classic potato latkes are a favorite in many households, but you can find recipes for a number of different variations, including one with sweet potatoes or some that have other vegetables mixed in!

Click here to check out a classic potato latke recipe from chef Tori Avey.

Sufganiyot are jelly-filled donuts fried in oil and often covered in powdered sugar. Today, we find sufganiyot in various sizes and filled with a number of different jellies, jams, and other tasty treats.

Click here to check out a sufganiyot recipe from chef Tori Avey.

Music

We might not have radio stations dedicated to Hanukkah music around the holidays or stores running Hanukkah playlists starting early in the season, but Jews around the world enjoy listening to their favorite Hanukkah tunes throughout the festival. There are a few standard classics (listed below), but you can also search online for more recent tunes from artists like The Maccabeats, Six13, Matisyahu, and even a 2020 hit by Daveed Diggs called “Puppy for Hanukkah.” Turn up the volume and enjoy these favorites!

Maoz Tzur / Rock of Ages- Traditional Hanukkah Song

I Have a Little Dreidel

Glee Oh Hanukkah LYRICS

Peter, Paul and Mary – Light One Candle (25th Anniversary Concert)

The Dreidel Game

Many Jewish children (and adults!) play with a 4-sided top called a dreidel. The Hebrew word for dreidel is sevivon, which, in Yiddish, means “to turn around.” Dreidels have four Hebrew letters on them, which serve as an acronym for the saying, nes gadol haya sham, meaning “a great miracle occurred there.” In Israel, instead of the fourth letter shin, there is a peh, which means the saying is nes gadol haya po — “a great miracle occurred here.”

Children often play with chocolate coins wrapped in gold or silver foil, which are called gelt.

This article explains how to play: How to Play Dreidel | My Jewish Learning