Hanukkah amidst the pandemic

Hanukkah, one of the most celebrated Jewish Festivals, falls in the month of December (beginning on the 25th day of Kislev of the Hebrew calendar). It is popularly referred to as “The Festival of Lights” as a nine-branched candelabrum is lit with nine candles as one of Hannukah’s primary rituals.

Hanukkah is a time for family and friends, celebrations and togetherness, good food, and memorable moments. Ushering in light, warmth, and happiness into homes, the festival is one of the one awaited occasions for the Jewish community.

This year, with the raging pandemic of Covid-19, the mood is somber, and the atmosphere is grim. Festivities worldwide are toned down in accordance with the restrictions posed by governments worldwide. This is, of course, all for our own safety. Much as we would like to celebrate with the same enthusiasm as the past years, the current scenario asks for a different course of action.

Although restrictions are in place, we must be thankful for what we have and ask for blessings to help cope with these unprecedented times. Spending time at home with loved ones was probably often given up owing to the pace of life and its responsibilities, but this pandemic has slowed the pace where we can once again enjoy life’s simple pleasures.

“You do not find a happy life. You make it!”

As we advance into the holiday this year with a positive attitude, here is a list of what you can do during the pandemic this Hanukkah:

  • Make sure you spend time with your family. This year sure has been crazy, but it has definitely brought people closer than ever before. Having to spend more time indoors has its benefits, the primary being extra family time.
  • Light up the Menorah candles together. It’s not always every year that the whole family can come together to celebrate the festival. The ritual of lighting of the candle should be done with everyone present, making it feel even more special. Members of the family may sometimes be abroad due to education or work issues. They may not be able to come home for the holidays. Due to the work and study from home models this year, more and more families can spend the festival together. This is something to celebrate in itself!
  • Bake, cook, and have fun as a family. Hanukkah means yummy food on the table. Have a few cooking sprees at home involving everyone. If you are not sure how to make the traditional recipes, give sites like Youtube a try – there are several videos to guide and help you along! Go crazy making savory items like latkes and keftes de prasas (leek patties). Indulge your sweet tooth with sufganiyots and bimuelos (fried dough puffs). Make sure you give everyone in a family something to do. The family’s little ones can do the more manageable parts like peeling, arranging, and cleaning up! You are sure to create some beautiful memories in your kitchen this year!
  • Play with the dreidel and sing traditional Hanukkah songs. After lighting the Menorah and reciting the blessings, move on to spin the dreidel with the whole family and sing the Hanukkah songs.
  • Have craft sessions at home. Get the family together and have fun craft sessions preparing items for Hanukkah. You can make beautiful candles at home, make and decorate dreidels, and use whatever things you have at home to create some Hanukkah decorations. So put on your creative hats to reuse and recycle!
  • Give meaningful gifts this Hanukkah. This year more than ever is a year to be thankful for all that we have and express how important our family and friends are to us. Make sure you get lovely gifts for everyone in the family, and you can take it up a notch by attaching a thoughtful note to the gift. Take time to select the right gift. Shop online if going to the market is not an option. There are so many great offers on for Hanukkah gifts all over!
  • Gelt, gelt, and more gelt! Hanukkah is probably the only time of the year when we see gold coins all around, so make sure you get plenty of chocolate gelt this year. Use them for your evening dreidel games, and then enjoy the chocolate as an after-dinner dessert.
  • Watch Hanukkah related stories and shows online together. Other than the usual celebrations, most people earlier did not probably get time to delve into the rich history of the Jews and the reason for Hanukkah festivities. This year, learn more about the history of Hanukkah and discuss how you can bring more light into this situation as a family. These discussions will undoubtedly strengthen the bond with each other.

Just as every home has something special and unique, so do menorahs differ from house to house. .Some people like classic menorahs and some like colorful menorahs, and there are those who like puzzle-shaped menorahs that can also be used as a game for children

Hanukkah has a profound meaning – of bringing in light when there is darkness. 2020 is a test for all of us. It is time for us to show positivity and kindness. We can choose to feel the absence of the usual grandeur of Hanukkah celebrations or cherish the beautiful time that we can spend together with our loved ones. There is a lot to be thankful for.

Most importantly, happiness grows when shared so, give what you can, be kind to everyone, smile, and spread cheer wherever you go. You will then be celebrating Hanukkah in its true spirit. After all, it is the festival of lights, warmth, love, and blessings!