Hanukkah is here, that special time of year. The time of bitter sweet rejoicing. A time for family. A time for rededication. A time to focus on the promise of the resurrection. A time to let your menorah shine before men.
Did you know that we are commanded to teach our children about Hanukkah? Look up the Scripture in Proverbs 22:6.
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
The Hebrew word for “train up” in this verse is chanuk. Chanuk (pronounced with a gutter “ch” – “h” sound) is the root word in Hanukkah and it means dedication. The Exegeses Bible puts it this way: Hanukkah up a lad. So we are encouraged by the Scriptures to teach our children about Hanukkah (Dedication) to the Lord Yahweh.
Here are some suggestions to make Hanukkah memories that will last a lifetime:
Read the story of Hannah and her seven sons from 2 Maccabees 7:1-42 and 4 Maccabees 8:1-18:21. The Maccabees books are found in the Apocrypha of some Bibles. It is a powerful teaching about one family’s dedication and determination to serve the God of Israel and Him only no matter what the cost. Hannah’s steadfast testimony for the Word of God is one of courage and endurance to the end.
Read the story of another family’s dedication to YHWH – the family of Mattithias also found in the 1st, 2nd, and 4th Book of Maccabees.
During the time of the Maccabees the God-fearing Jews met together secretly to read and study Torah. To hide their activity from the king’s spies they would play a gambling game with a dreidel (spinning top with 4 Hebrew letters on it) so if an enemy would come to the door they would appear to be playing a game instead of reading the Scriptures. Try reenacting this by reading the Word of God together and keep your dreidel nearby. Have someone pretend to be an enemy soldier and try to conceal your Bible and pretend you are playing a game. See the Dreidel Game Code below. If you don’t have a dreidel, play Yahtzee instead.
Light a Hanukkah menorah each evening or try lighting an oil lamp for each of the 8 nights. Light one lamp the first night and increase the light until you have 8 lamps burning. The old fashioned metal oil lamps work especially well for this. Try setting them outside the front door of you home. If you have a mezuzah on the right side of your door, place the 1st lamp on the left side of your door. Continue adding lamps to the left of the first on each consecutive night of Hanukkah. This is what they did when Yahshua was a boy and is why the Hanukkah menorah is lit from right to left.
It is fun to exchange gifts for Hanukkah but if you are concerned about over commercializing the holiday, try gathering together and do special activities in the evening that you usually do not make time to do regularly. Try a family Lego building night or play board games, dominos, checkers, or cards. Playing together as a family by the light of the menorah burning is especially cozy on a cold winter night.
Part of the joy of Hanukkah is the story of the rededication of the temple and the relighting of the menorah oil. Therefore, special food fried in oil can make the holiday extra memorable. Make fried potato pancakes and serve them with sour cream. Or try making doughnuts, fried cheese sticks, or egg rolls.
Decorate with twinkle lights, candles, and menorahs. Create glitter posters with Biblical themes of light, such as,
“Yahshua is the Light of the World” and “The Light that Shines in the Darkness.”