If your family celebrates both Jewish and Christian holidays, you’re in luck! This year, Hanukkah falls over Christmas, which means you can hang up colorful ornaments while eating latkes by the fireplace. If you only observe the Jewish Festival of Lights, you can’t expect a bedazzled tree or knitted stockings, but you can anticipate gift-giving and food-devouring (if you’ve never tried sufganiyot, you’ve never lived) to be equally abundant. What makes this traditional holiday even more appealing are the “eight crazy nights,” as Adam Sandler would say, of present-opening and menorah-lighting. Growing up, my brother and I would take turns lighting candles with satisfied glee; I mean, on what other occasion does a kid get the chance to play with fire in the name of religion? Afterward, my mother would run upstairs to snag the “hidden” gifts (we very well knew they were in a kitchen cabinet) that she’d hand-picked for us each night.
Of course, they don’t make modern Hanukkahs like they used to; these days, we no longer have to scramble for oil to light a fire the way the Maccabees did centuries ago, for example. But the tradition of giving Hanukkah gifts wasn’t even established until the 19th century, so rest assured it won’t become archaic anytime soon.
Ahead, our Hanukkah gift guide filled with toys and activities that your little ones will rush home to unwrap.
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A version of this story was originally published in November 2019.