We love to hear about special holiday traditions from all religions and faiths so we asked some of our fave Jewish mamas to share theirs. Read below to learn more about what each one cherishes during the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah.
Favorite Hanukkah tradition is my husband makes the *best* latkes and we sit around the kitchen table eating them right after he makes them. I’m addition to the standard apple sauce and sour cream my kids love cream cheese and lox latkes!
It’s hard to believe Hanukkah is almost here, and I’m so excited to celebrate the ‘Festival of Lights’ with my children. As a multicultural family that observes multiple holidays and cherishes different traditions, the holiday season always feels extra special as it gives us the opportunity to celebrate our heritage, cultures, and make long-lasting memories with our loved ones.
With Hanukkah around the corner, the kids and I can’t wait to spin our dreidels, eat yummy sufganiyot (aka jelly donuts), sing popular Hanukkah songs while dancing around the house in our favorite holiday outfits, and of course, consume large amounts of chocolate gelt! (still a favorite tradition to date!) Sweets aside, in light of October 7, this year we are starting a new family tradition as we plan to dedicate one of the nights to “giving” rather than receiving presents. In fact, we will be picking a charity to support/donate to. Even though my children are still very young, it’s important to me that they understand how blessed they are and learn the importance of giving back and caring about others 💛
Our family's favorite tradition is hosting a HUGE latke party for all of our friends and family. The party is for everyone, you don't have to be Jewish, we do it because we love to share the holiday, traditions, and food with everyone who wants to join. I start cooking the day before to get my secret latke recipe ready for frying on the day of the party. At the party, the whole apartment smells like latkes because I have multiple burners going with oil to fry the latkes. We have a make-your-own latke bar that includes all the traditional accouterments including applesauce and sour cream but we also add things like caviar, smoked salmon, and sometimes pulled beef (so we can have a variation on Mofongo because my partner is Puerto Rican) and more. It's a time to celebrate and share with everyone we love.
We started the tradition about 10 years ago when it was just the immediate family (which is about 15-20 people) and then a few friends would find their way. My aunt always asks me to make the latkes cause my family loves my recipe but they would ask me to make extra for the few days after. There was always a LOT of food. Then more people started coming or bringing friends, partners, kids, or family members of their own. Now the party can have up to 60 people throughout the night and sometimes we don't even know who is coming.
The most special part is sharing the holiday with friends and family who didn't grow up with the tradition and now have one. We love spending the holidays with everyone, even during peak COVID I made extra latkes and dropped them at people's houses so they could still celebrate with us over Zoom. At the end of the day being able to welcome people into our home and spend time with them makes it most special.
Our toddlers love gelt and their love of chocolate coins launched a new tradition on accident. We hide and find upwards of 20+ pieces of gelt everywhere in the house: inside their toy cars, popping out of every corner cushion, and hiding in all of our drawers. Luckily, it’s cold enough in NY in December that we launch and eat them as we rediscover them (if we were in Florida, they’d all melt!)
One of my family’s Hanukkah traditions is proudly displaying all of our menorahs and lighting them together. 🕎 Each of us (even the kids) gets their own one to light - so many of our menorahs have sentimental meaning and a story behind them! ✨ Like the heirloom one I inherited from my grandma, the one we got as a wedding gift, the one our daughter made in preschool, and even the handprint menorah picture that we laminated as a “drip tray.” As we light the candles each night, we are reminded of so many special family moments from over the years, while we build new memories together.