Celebrate and Learn about Hanukkah in 8 Nights

Last updated: November 22, 2023, at 2:56 p.m. PT

Originally published: December 10, 2020, at 12:11 p.m. PT

Image shows a menorah and dreidels.

Hanukkah is a Jewish Holiday which is celebrated over 8 nights. In many Jewish families, each night comes with gifts and a special tradition along with lighting the Menorah.

First Night

Learn the Story of Hanukkah -  On the first night of Hanukkah, read the story of how the Jewish people revolted against the Greeks, won, and liberated Jerusalem. Jews lit the menorah with only one day’s worth of oil, which miraculously lasted eight days, hence the Festival of Lights. Continue your reading with these recommendations from PJ Library

Second Night

Arts & Crafts – Decorating your home is always fun and what is better than homemade decorations?! There are lots of Hanukkah crafts online, but checkout Creative Jewish Mom for crafts for all ages.

Third Night

Latkes (Potato Pancakes) – During Hanukkah, fried foods are encouraged as they symbolize the miracle of Hanukkah, when the oil in the Temple burned for eight days even though there was only enough oil for one day. Following in this tradition, cook and eat Latkes on the second night of Hanukkah. Shred potatoes and onions by hand and then fry them up for a delicious side dish to dinner. Serve with sour cream and apple sauce to top it! There are lots of recipes, but we find this one from the NY Times to be easy and delicious.

Fourth Night

It’s a Dance Party – Before you open gifts on the fourth night, have a Family Dance Party. Put on a Hanukkah CD or playlist and dance the night away! It does not matter how old you are, dance to the upbeat Hanukkah songs. 

Fifth Night

Cookie Decorating – On the fifth night, decorate your own desserts. Bake or buy sugar cookies and cut them into Hanukkah shapes. When they cool, use white and blue frosting and tons of sprinkles to decorate your cookies. Display all of our creations before eating them up! Cookie cutters and sprinkles are available on Amazon or some local supermarkets.

Sixth Night

Dreidel Game – As a family, choose a currency to play with (dollars, coins, beans, chocolate). Take turns putting your currency in the pot and spin the dreidel to see what letter it lands on and what action to take. Click here for complete directions to the dreidel game. Dreidels can often be bought in the dollar section at Target or on Amazon.

Seventh Night 

Sufganiyot (Jelly Donuts) – As mentioned above, fried foods are a tradition for Hanukkah as are Sufganiyot or jelly-filled donuts. These bite-sized donuts are fun to make and even more fun to eat! This recipe from Real Simple makes it easy to make at home and they taste better then buying them at the store.

Eighth Night

Tzedakah (Charitable Giving) - After seven nights of gifts and fun, we close Hanukkah out with remembering those less fortunate and the act of Tzedakah or charitable giving. Spend some time as family talking about how you give to others!