Wintertime in North America is a fun time for goys, as you deck your halls and also everything else to the point where there is almost no room for Hanukkah, the only holiday with as many days as ways to spell it. Outside of the Rugrats, there aren’t even any family-friendly television specials! (Don’t talk to me about that schmuck Adam Sandler.)
Instead of just kvetching about it, it’s time to educate all you heathens of the best Hanukkah traditions you’ve never heard of, because the Festival of Lights is a de-light to celebrate. This goes beyond eating a latke and singing the dreidel song; this is a Hanukkah that the Hebrew Hammer can get behind.
Are these traditions real? Honestly, who is to say? It would be rude to imply these are just bupkes, but I can’t promise these are necessarily all kosher.
(Editor’s note: Nathanial Rossman worked at a synagogue for many years, rode the chair at his Bar Mitzvah, and has never eaten bacon so he is a great source on all things Jew-ish.)
Find a Hanukkah bush and light it on fire
Hanukkah has always been forced to compete with Christmas, which is a little unfair seeing as Christians stole Jesus from the Jews. Gifts weren’t even that customary until the holidays went head to head, prompting the Jewish faith to be forced to add a little chutzpah to even things up.
Seeing as Christmas trees have become symbolic, the Jews needed something to even the odds. The most famous shrubbery in the Torah is the burning bush, which was then chosen to be the new symbol for Hanukkah, seeing as the holiday is all about lighting things on fire. Every year, it is considered a mitzvah to bring a bush into your home, and let it burn for all eight days. Sure, it’s a fire hazard, but not celebrating with a Hanukkah bush is an even bigger hazard to Bubbe.
Start a dreidel gambling ring and and go for broke
Aaaahhh, dreidel. The one time Jews are encouraged to gamble because they did it to avoid being murdered in the story of Hanukkah. While you should teach the game to children using gelt, it is much more encouraged for adults to bet using real money. The higher the stakes, the better the game.
Historically, the Jews bet their lives that playing dreidel would fool Antiochus and all his soldiers. In honour of that, it wouldn’t be fair if you didn’t wager your life savings on this game of chance. While you watch the dreidel spin round and round and pray for a gimmel, remember that miracles are what Hanukkah is all about, and a miracle of Maccabean proportions is what you desperately need.
Attend the Matzo Ball for Jewish singles in your area
The Matzo Ball is “an annual Christmas Eve nightlife event and party held in a number of major cities in the United States and Canada targeted primarily at young Jewish singles and organized by the Society of Young Jewish Professionals.” It’s perfect for when you start feeling lonely at Hanukkah and have no one to share your Manischewitz with. Bless these nice mensches for organizing such a lovely night for you! I have it on good authority that the Molotsky boy is going to be there, I hear he’s on his way to being a great doctor!
Listen to the Curb Your Enthusiasm theme on repeat for eight days
That Larry David is such a nice boy! He used to be on the television so much, and now we have the CNN and the Modern Family and the America Sings and Dances, but sometimes you just yearn for a nice Jewish boy to be on the TV again. So what if he says he’s an atheist, we all get tempted by shikses every once in a while.
Make sure to play just the theme of Curb Your Enthusiasm, because the episodes already sound too much like the conversation you’re going to have over brisket and kugel and it will be too loud to even think with all the people talking at once. Bonus: the rhythm is the perfect tempo in case you want to get up and stretch those Israeli dancing legs.
Literally do any research on “חנוכה” before you start talking about it in public
You look like a real shmendrik when you talk about lighting the Menorah for Hanuka. That’s for Shabbat! You light a Hanukkiah for Channukkah. Try and learn something new about Chanuka this year, and show some love to your mishpocheh.