When you're single, no kids, lighting the Hanukkah menorah at home alone can be a bummer, especially if you hoped that by the time this Hanukkah had rolled around, things would be different. But with or without a mate, Hanukkah can be lots of fun - and meaningful, too. And that's especially true when you find ways to celebrate yourself, with family, and with good friends who are the family we choose.
For the first time since 2005, the first night of Hanukkah falls on Christmas Eve, December 24. It's so rare, it only happens around four times every 100 years.
Well, it's good timing because, as you may know, it's modern American Jewish tradition to go out for Chinese food on Christmas Eve, and Hanukkah is all about fried foods to recall the miracle of the holy oil lasting for eight days instead of one. So, on the first night of Hanukkah, light the first candle, order in Chinese (make sure to include some fried egg rolls, of course), and watch a movie! Recent Hanukkah-related movies include Adam Sandler's Eight Crazy Nights, The Hebrew Hammer starring Adam Goldberg, and Little Fockers. True, the former is not a Hanukkah movie, per se, but it's no surprise that a holiday movie starring Barbra Streisand has a few references to Hanukkah.
If you don't have time for an entire movie, it wouldn't be Hanukkah without the traditional Hanukkah Armadillo. Or, so says Ross Geller in this classic Friends episode.
It's Sunday! If you've got nieces and nephews by relation or by choice who live nearby, this is the time to spend Hanukkah with them. If you can get there early, plan to bake some Hanukkah cookies or fry up some latkes together. Plus, being with the kids gives you the perfect excuse to play the Dreidel game.
Speaking of toys and games, there's no question that bringing gifts is part of the Hanukkah tradition. That's why I spend the better part of the year looking for the coolest toys of the year so you can be the hero at Hanukkah. Here's my 8th annual list of Savvy Auntie Coolest Toy Award winners!
It's Jewish deli night! Well, not officially, but if you're on your own, there's no reason not to start a new tradition! Order a Dr. Brown's Black Cherry, a pastrami on rye, and latkes on the side! If you're not a latke lover, order French fries. Yes, fries! It's traditional to eat fried foods during Hanukkah, after all.
Doughnuts are the new cupcakes. At least, that's what it looks like in New York City where I live and where doughnut shops are opening up by the baker's dozen. Since doughnuts are fried in oil, they have become a traditional Hanukkah treat - so treat yo' self!
Make an event of it and grab some friends and take a tour of the doughnut spots in your city. Before you think that may result in a few too many doughnuts, how about this idea: each friend gets to choose a doughnut at one of the spots and then you all share it together. Five doughnut shops means five doughnuts to share! I highly recommend that one doughnut pick should be a traditional kosher jelly doughnut, or sufganiya, where the red berry jelly oozes out from the center. Or, just find the best of the best doughnuts with this list of the best doughnuts in America!
After all the food during the first half of Hanukkah, it sounds like a good night for a workout! And hey, it's totally Hanukkah themed to work out. After all, the Maccabiah Games, AKA the "Jewish Olympics" were named after Judah Maccabee, the leader of the Maccabean revolt against Antiochus, the king of the Seleucid Empire, from 167 to 160 BC. The king had wanted the Jews to live a Hellenistic lifestyle, praying to the Greek Gods. Judah and his small army defeated the enemy and took back the Jewish Temple. Hanukkah (or "dedication") celebrates the re-dedication of the Temple. Judah Maccabee is the hero of the Hanukkah story so go ahead and work out like a Maccabee!
Host a Hanukkah party for your family or friends! And if you can't, join mine. I'm hosting a Hanukkah celebration for my friends - and you're invited! Join us on Facebook Live at Facebook.com/SavvyAuntie as we light the Hanukkah Menorah together on Thursday, December 29, at approximately 8:15 PM EST. My Hanukkah Celebration is sponsored by TYLENOL® to celebrate all the ways families come together at the holidays. Getting together with friends for the holidays is #HowWeFamily.
It's Friday night, the Shabbat! The day of rest couldn't come any sooner. It's the perfect excuse to light the Hanukkah candles, the Sabbath candles, and cozy up at home with fresh challah bread, some red wine, a bowl of chicken matzah ball soup, and a good book. (I'd be remiss not to suggest my book, OTHERHOOD, since it contains a special story about why I light the Sabbath candles every Friday night.)
It's New Year's Eve! Time to light up the night! Add a new tradition when you light your final eight Hanukkah candles. With each candle you light, think of a family member and/or friend whom you are grateful to have in your life. Then, as you light "their" candle, pray for a little miracle to light up his or her life for 2017. By the eighth candle, it won't be hard to believe your own miracles are on their way to you, too - especially since you saved your very own miracle prayer for last.
I hope all your miracles come true in 2017! Happy Hanukkah!