Posted in Blogmas

Celebrating Hanukkah For The First Time

Here we go, day 13 of blogmas 2020!

While Christmas is probably the more known holiday at this time of year, there are a few others that also take place around the December period. One of them being Hanukkah. 

From lighting the menorah to learning a few prayers, this is how I celebrated my first Hanukkah.

The biggest thanks to Lexi for allowing me to celebrate with her and for answering all of my questions. She was very nice about my limited knowledge of Hanukkah outside of ‘the Hannukah song’ by Adam Sandler and his movie Eight Crazy Nights.

It was the best Saturday night of December so far.


HANUKKAH vs CHANUKAH? both are considered correct, though Hanukkah is the most widely used spelling, while Chanukah is more traditional.

Hanukkah is a Jewish celebration that takes place over 8 days, on the 25th day of the Kislev (a month in Hebrew), usually in November-December. This year, we start lighting the menorah on Thursday night, December 10, 2020.

The celebration commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, where, in short, Jews fled from Greek-Syrian oppressors during the Maccabean Revolt. At the time, the King condemned the local Jews to a life ‘worshipping’ Greek Gods that they could not believe in. Led by the Jewish priest Mattathias and his five sons, Jews took back their hand and cleansed a Temple that had been tainted by their oppressors.

While doing this, Judah found enough oil that could keep the menorah’s light burning for one day at the most. However, a miracle happened. The oil lasted for 8 days. Burning day and night and giving the Jews hope and comfort, knowing that God was with them and keeping them safe. Hence why many Jews today call Hanukkah The Festival of Lights.


Hanukkah revolves around the lighting of the menorah – a nine-branched candle, basically. Each candle represents a day of the festival. After sundown throughout the eight days of the holiday, a candle gets added and lit. The middle and ninth candle is called Shamash, which is used to light the candles. The candles are placed in the menorah from right to left (just as Hebrew is written from right to left) but are lit from left to right. 

Traditionally, you are meant to recite blessings and prayers during the lighting of the menorah. However, each family does it differently these days. You are then to place the menorah in a window to remind others of the miracle that inspired the holiday.

The prayer is:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי, אֱלוֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִידְשָׁנוּ בְּמִצוֹתָיו, וְצִיוָּנוּ לְהַדְלִיק נֵר שֶׁל חַנֻכָה

Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tsivanu l’hadlik ner shel Hanukkah.

Praised are You,

Our God, Ruler of the universe,

Who made us holy through Your commandments

and commanded us

to kindle the Hanukkah lights.

It was so welcoming when we did the prayer; even though I felt a little awkward not knowing the prayer, we held hands. It just felt very welcoming and like being a part of a family.

I always assumed that just like Christmas, Hanukkah involves an exchange of gifts. Families do this differently; some do it like Christmas, where presents are exchanged on one day and focus on their religion/ faith for other days. Some give others one gift a day over the festival, and some offer more. There is no right or wrong way to do things as each family is different.

I did get to watch as Lexi gave her boyfriend a lovely gift. A record player and a vinyl he has been searching for. They both live and breathe music. It is literally how they communicate, so watching this was so cute. 


Like Christmas, I assumed that Lexi and her family would go all out for a Hanukkah dinner. Nope.


Lexi did make latkes (potato pancakes), which are the best things on this planet! She also made challah, which is something you eat during the sabbath. Sabbath or Shabbat is a day of rest and even a day of pleasure and delight. It begins at sundown on Friday and ends on Saturday evening.

She made the bread herself, which is something she will have to teach me to do. She did a three strand braid, and my goodness, it was bigger than both our faces. Again each family makes them different and gives them a unique twist to them.

The main point of Hanukkah is expressing gratitude and love. Gratitude and love for your friends, family, the life God gave you. But most of all, gratitude for everything God has done for you and with you. It’s not about presents, or sparkling lights hanging from your rooftops, or even the delicious food that gets served. It’s about remembering the past, being thankful for it, and the lessons you have learned. Accepting that it is the past, and you have learned a lesson from it. And look forward to the future with love and compassion, the very same thing God does for you every single day.

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