The menorah and the dreidel are two of Hanukkah's main symbols — a great place to start teaching your little ones about the holiday. You can buy inexpensive versions at your local dollar store or department store to give kids something to hold on to and visualize. Explain to them the meaning of each item, and let them repeat back to you what they've learned. Here's a list of Hanukkah facts to take a look at and share.
Understanding how two things compare can help kids make sense of everything. So play a game of similarities and differences with them, where you compare your holiday celebrations to Hanukkah's. For instance, they are the same in that families exchange gifts, but different in that your celebrations may last only one day, while Hanukkah lasts eight days.
There are some excellent Hanukkah books out there that will teach your child (and maybe even you!) about the holiday. Check out The Miracle of Hanukkah for little ones and When Mindy Saved Hanukkah for older kids. It's a great opportunity for you to learn and have fun together.
In remembrance of the symbolic oil that is celebrated at Hanukkah, many of the foods are deep fried. But if you prefer a healthier option, you can always saute or roast foods in less oil. Try making a traditional Jewish dish — latkes (fried potato patties) — together for lunch or dinner, and finish off with Sufganiyot (a jelly-filled doughnut) for dessert.
Holidays seem more fun when creative activities go with them. Kids who celebrate Christmas have plenty of ornaments and decorations to make, so visit your local craft store and pick up some plain dreidels they can paint to get in the spirit of Hanukkah. When the dreidels are complete, your kids won't complain about having a chance to play the dreidel game! And check out these Hanukkah colouring pages offered by Activity Village. They showcase some of the main symbols associated with the holiday, as well as the spirit of celebration and togetherness that comes with this special time of year. The website also offers Hanukkah cards your kids can print out, colour and offer to friends and family.
If you don't celebrate Hanukkah, it can be hard to grasp all the intricacies of the holiday and fully make your child understand what makes it so special to so many people. One easy way is to arrange a play date between your kids and the kids of a family of the Jewish faith. Ask their parents if they would be willing to teach your children a few things about the holiday. Chances are, once they've mentioned a few pieces of information, their kids will get excited and share all their love for the holiday with your little ones. And when they come home to tell you what they've learned, you can share in the joy together.
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