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awacting's avatar

What are some Hanukkah traditions you and your family have?

Asked by awacting (798points) December 6th, 2010

Ie heard of so many Christmas traditions, but what about Hanukkah? Does anyone celebrate hanukkah that has a cool or funny tradition that they do with their family or friends?

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21 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

We’re not Jewish—well, we sort of are, but thats another story—but the kids love to sing the Dreidle song. Sometimes there’s even a Dreidle to spin. My daughter know more about it than I do.

JLeslie's avatar

Nothing cool or funny. Just light the candles, well when we were little we liked to choose the colors of the candles before lighting, and open gifts when we were little. When we were older we received money, also known as chanukah gelt. Sometimes we got together with family, but not often.

As an adult I have some hand painted chanukah plates I pull out, make some latkes, and light the candles usually on the first night. The rest of the nights I light the candles if I am home at sundown. I always always buy Chanukah chocolate gelt during chanukah, that is the only consistant thing I always do. If I had kids, I would try to create some sort of more consistant tradition, and make it more festive.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@wundayatta I think it’s stooorrry tiiiime…

JLeslie's avatar

The thing about Chanukah is it isn’t one of the bigger holidays. It just gets more attention, especially in the US, because it competes with Christmas. But, I am excited to see what other people write. Might give me a new idea.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@JLeslie I read a Cracked article on it earlier today that described it as “the Arbor Day of Jewish Holidays”.

JLeslie's avatar

@papayalily What is Cracked? Yeah. I think the gift giving started fairly recently for Chanukah. Meaning maybe the last 100 years? I completely made that up, total guess, maybe I should look up the history on that, might be interesting. Being a Jewish kid when everyone else gets gifts from santa sucks.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@JLeslie What is Cracked? What is Cracked, you say?? Cracked.com is what became of Cracked magazine, a humor magazine around for decades, much like Mad Magazine.
Note: Take it from me, no good comes from the comments. Just read the articles and move on, because it’s pretty much the anti-Fluther.

Qingu's avatar

My Hannukah tradition is to constantly point out that Hannukah is a celebration of religious fundamentalist terrorists who violently overthrew a relatively secular government to establish a Taliban-like state… and that thus maybe people shouldn’t be celebrating this holiday in the first place.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Qingu Would you be interested in expanding on that?

Qingu's avatar

The Maccabees were religious fundamentalists who treated women like property and killed people who were not sufficiently Jewish, just like the Taliban kill people who aren’t sufficiently Muslim.

They violently overthrew the Greek/Seleucid government because they wanted to establish their own theocratic state. Hilariously, the Hannukah story sometimes gets cast as a battle for religious freedom (because the Greeks were supposedly making the Jews bow down to Greek god statues… the horror)

The seleucids weren’t quite a civilized democracy (understatement), but they showed infinitely more tolerance for other religions than the Macabees; I would rather live under them than the completely backwards theocratic state that Hannukah celebrates.

(Note that there were many other Jewish groups at the time, by the way, who lived at peace and were educated and “assimilated,” much like many modern Jews and Muslims… not the Macabees; such assimilated Jews were often targets of the Macabees.)

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Qingu I thought King Antiochus essentially outlawed the practice of Judaism and desecrated the temple in a pretty nasty way. That desecration sparked a revolt. Ultimately, Judah Maccabee led a band of guerrillas against the Syrian Army and won. Because Cracked and Wikipedia said so.

Likeradar's avatar

When I was a kid we always lit the candles before we ate. We just to make friendly bets on which candle would go out first.

Qingu's avatar

That is the traditional Hannukah story, written by the Macabees (I wonder what the Taliban’s official story about US troops sound like). But: at the time, the zealot Jews were violently revolting. Also, from the Antiochus IV article:

“Modern scholars argue that the king was intervening in a civil war between the traditionalist Jews in the country and the Hellenized Jews in Jerusalem. [8] [9] [10] According to Joseph P. Schultz: “Modern scholarship on the other hand considers the Maccabean revolt less as an uprising against foreign oppression than as a civil war between the orthodox and reformist parties in the Jewish camp.[11]”

The Macabees were pretty terrible to “assimilated” Jews. Even if they didn’t start the war. Which they probably did.

Qingu's avatar

It’s also worth remembering what the Macabees were being orthodox about. This was before the fluffy rabbinic tradition of Judaism basically neutered all the absolutely horrible shit in the Bible, the stuff about stoning nonvirgin newlyweds and disobedient kids and unbelievers and advocating genocide of pagan tribes in the holy land.

The Macabees—unlike the “hellenized” Greeks—were all about that stuff, and were fighting to establish a state where such things formed the law of the land.

JLeslie's avatar

@Qingu I always appreciate your knowledge of the religious books and events. One can choose to focus on the miracle of the one day of oil lasting for eight days; celebrating another of God’s miracles. Not that I believe it, but it’s a nice story.

Are there any religious holidays you think are positive or worth celebrating? I am not trying to be challenging, just wondering. I’m not religious as you know, but the traditions kind of move the year along for me. Not just religious, but holidays in general,

Likeradar's avatar

@Likeradar why did I write “just to”? Used to.

Qingu's avatar

@JLeslie the problem with that is… well, there are two problems, really:

(1) the miracle story is obviously bullshit

(2) the context of this “miracle” is that it helped these Taliban-like rebels fight their pointless and immoral war.

I like celebrating the winter solstice. Christmas is based on the Roman holiday of Saturnalia, and Saturn was the god of time. I like to “celebrate” by reflecting on the nature of time. I’m also fine with the gift giving aspect (also dating from Saturnalia), though I hate getting gifts myself. Also, Thanksgiving is a damn good holiday.

YARNLADY's avatar

We don’t do it anymore, but lighting candles, eating potato latkes and chocolate coins, having a big meal with family and opening presents. I celebrated with one family who gave 1 present the first day 2 the second and so on, but that is rare.

JLeslie's avatar

@Qingu But nothing from the Abrahamic religions, I’m assuming, from what you have said.

Qingu's avatar

I am not a fan of those religions.

awacting's avatar

I am learning so much!

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