Which must-have items do you need for a Hanukkah celebration?
There’s plenty to remember as the holiday season rolls around and the last thing you want is to get to that first night of Hanukkah and realize you’ve forgotten something. If you’re worried about making sure you’re ready, consider making a checklist to ensure you’re all set. If you don’t know where to start, there are a few basics you’ll need. So, whether you’re hosting your first Hanukkah candle lighting or you need a refresher on the basics, consider these Hanukkah celebration essentials.
Shop this article: Creative Judaica Hand-Painted Jewish Hanukkah Menorah with Flowers, Rite Lite Premium Chanukah Candles (Blue and White) and HolYudaica Hand-Made Knitted Kippah with Star of David Embroidery.
When is Hanukkah?
Hanukkah begins on the eve of the 25th of the Jewish month of Kislev. The Jewish calendar is not the same as the Gregorian calendar, which is the calendar used widely across the world today. As a result, the dates for Hanukkah vary on most calendars from year to year. Typically, Hanukkah begins in November or December, and it always lasts for eight days. This year, it begins at sundown Dec. 7 and runs until sundown on Dec. 15.
Why is Hanukkah called “the festival of lights”?
The Hebrew word “Hanukkah” translates to “dedication” in English and refers to the rededication of Jerusalem’s Second Temple. In the Jewish community, Hanukkah is known by many as “The festival of lights” because in the classic story of the holiday the little bit of oil that the Jewish people had burned for eight days instead of one: a miracle.
What do you need to celebrate Hanukkah?
Some Hanukkah items are reused year after year or even passed down from generation to generation. But if this is your first time celebrating Hanukkah and you’re new to this Jewish tradition, you’ll need the following items.
The Jewish branched menorah is a special candelabrum used through the eight nights of Hanukkah. There are nine candles in a menorah; it features eight branches plus a ninth holder for the helper candle used to light the Hanukkah candles. This ninth candle is known as the Shamash. On the first night, one candle plus the Shamash is lit. On the second night, two candles plus the Shamash are lit, and so forth. Candles are placed in the menorah from right to left (the same way Hebrew is read) but are lit from the left to the right.
Best Hanukkah menorah
What you need to know: This metal menorah stands 7.5 inches tall and 9 inches long and features an ornate tree, vine and flower design.
What you’ll love: It’s hand-painted in great detail and embellished with tiny crystals. The base looks like the base of a tree with roots and the candle holders look like little flower cups. This beautiful piece is functional for Hanukkah and can be displayed year-round.
What you should consider: It’s on the small side considering the price tag.
Best Hanukkah menorah for the money
What you need to know: This metal menorah stands 11 inches tall and 10 inches wide and features a tree of life leaf pattern across the branches.
What you’ll love: It’s beautifully detailed with a sturdy base that won’t topple over. It’s a great size and comes available in either an antique gold finish or an antique silver finish.
What you should consider: It’s not as heavy as it looks, which can make it feel a little cheaper.
Hanukkah candles come in a variety of different colors and their height can vary based on style. A box of menorah candles comes with 44 candles, which is enough to carry you through all eight nights of the holiday.
Best Hanukkah candles
What you need to know: This box includes 45 blue-and-white candles for a menorah that stand 6.25 inches tall.
What you’ll love: The candles are hand-dipped and hand-decorated with lead-free wicks. They are thin and tall with colors that have both depth and texture. They don’t really drip and will burn for about an hour.
What you should consider: Some users have reported that they don’t fit in all menorahs.
Best Hanukkah candles for the money
What you need to know: This box has 44 wax candles in assorted colors that each stand 4 inches tall.
What you’ll love: These are affordable with a fun nostalgia factor for anyone who grew up using these little candles. The colors are bright and festive.
What you should consider: The candles aren’t top-quality and the box doesn’t come with an extra candle in case one breaks.
A kippah, also known as a yarmulke, is a brimless cap worn on the head by all men and sometimes women on Jewish holidays and during Jewish ceremonies. It is often worn while a prayer is said during the Hanukkah menorah lighting ceremony.
What you need to know: This set comes with four kippahs in assorted colors, each with a Star of David embroidered on top.
What you’ll love: They come in several blue, white and silver patterns and are good, quality pieces. Since there are four of them, a whole family or group can have a matching set.
What you should consider: You can’t just buy one and you can’t pick one individual color scheme.
Best kippah for the money
What you need to know: This genuine suede kippah is trimmed carefully around the edges and comes in over 20 solid colors. It also includes a clip.
What you’ll love: The quality is great with a simple yet timeless design. One kippah can be purchased individually but a bulk order of 12 gives you more bang for your buck.
What you should consider: The smallest set after one is 12, which can get pricier if you only want three or four instead of 12 or more.
The dreidel is the toy most frequently associated with Hanukkah celebrations. It’s a four-sided spinning top with a different Hebrew letter on each side. For the game, you spin a dreidel and trade pennies or pieces of Hanukkah gelt based on which letter lands face-up. A dreidel can be constructed from wood, metal or plastic.
What you need to know: This sterling silver dreidel is made in Israel and measures 1.20 inches by 0.60 inches in size with the correct Hebrew letters on all sides.
What you’ll love: It features a beautiful, handcrafted filigree design that looks gorgeous up close and from afar. As decorative as it looks, it spins and functions just like any dreidel.
What you should consider: It might require polishing, as silver tarnishes.
Best dreidel for the money
What you need to know: This set comes with 10 wooden dreidels that stand 1.75 inches tall each and feature Hebrew letters with their English translations on the sides.
What you’ll love: These are great for groups, particularly kids who are still shaky on their Hebrew letters and need English help. The lettering on the dreidels comes in assorted colors so everyone can pick their favorites.
What you should consider: The quality is good for the price, but can be inconsistent as these aren’t fancy dreidels.
Hanukkah gelt features flat, round pieces of chocolate candy wrapped in gold foil so that they look like coins. They are often given as a treat throughout the holiday and can be used as trading pieces when children play the Hanukkah dreidel game.
Best Hanukkah gelt
What you need to know: This bag comes with 25 gold-foil-wrapped Belgian chocolate coins that are kosher and gluten-free.
What you’ll love: The chocolate is tasty and the coins are manufactured at a nut-free facility. Both the chocolate and the foil have a festive menorah design on them.
What you should consider: These come in one large bag, not individual mesh bags, which might make gifting them more work.
Best Hanukkah gelt for the money
What you need to know: This set comes with eight mesh bags, each with three gold-foil-wrapped milk chocolate coins for a total of 24 pieces.
What you’ll love: The fact that these are individually bagged makes giving them out at a Hanukkah party or celebration much easier. Each coin and wrapper features a fun menorah design.
What you should consider: They are not nut-free and the quality of the chocolate is inconsistent.
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