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Hanukkah traditions vary family to family

With the winter months nearing, people all around the world are beginning their celebrations. Murmurs of Christmas are filling the halls of RHS, as an overlooked holiday, Hanukkah, and its traditions are also right around the corner.

Hanukkah has been celebrated through different traditions across the world. Foods, games and music all vary from family to family. Interviews with teachers and students revealed how different families have different and special ways they celebrate this Jewish holiday.

“My family and I have always taken turns lighting the Hanukkah candles and saying the prayers on each of the eight nights of the holidays. As my kids grew up, we would take their picture next to the hanukkiah (a menorah with nine stems). Looking back on all the photographs gives us perspective on the passage of time,” said Deb Bryan, English and speech teacher.

Games are an important part of the Hanukkah, and the most commonly played is dreidel. Dreidel is a game in which each player begins the game with an equal number of game pieces (about 10-15) such as pennies, nuts, chocolate chips, raisins or matchsticks. At the beginning of each round, every participant puts one game piece into the center “pot.”

Every time it’s someone's turn, they spin the dreidel once. Depending on the side it lands on, the person must give or get game pieces from the pot. So many families play dreidel in many ways, some people use candy, coins, or even whole dollars as currency for the game.

“We use pretzel sticks or Eminem's for currency in dreidel,” explained science teacher Gabe Wasserman.

Most people's favorite part of this holiday is the food. Food is one of the most unique and special parts of Hanukkah. With everything from honey and apples to classic latkes (potato pancakes), food is one thing that tends to be most diverse throughout families during the eight-day holiday.

“We definitely eat latkes with apple sauce and sour cream, with usually chicken or turkey dinner,” Wassermann added.

Like Christmas, Hanukkah means children are given presents on all eight days, and some families save the biggest present for the last day of Hanukkah.

“We don’t do presents every night... Our family finds it to be more special when there's just one big thing at the end of the holiday,” said Athina Pastore ‘22.

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