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Create a meaningful Chanukah

  • Story Highlights
  • Chanukah celebrates a miracle and rejoices in the Jewish faith
  • A menorah holds eight candles, one lit each day
  • Holiday foods include latkes (potato pancakes), sufganiyot (doughnuts)
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( -- If you are overwhelmed by the thought of the upcoming seasons or wish for more meaning to your holiday, Sandra Magsamen, author of "Living Artfully," shares creative and artful ways to keep the "happy" in all the holidays and to make the season merry and bright.


Eight candles represent the eight days a bit of oil burned instead of the one expected day of light.

In English, there are at least 16 ways to spell Chanukah, including: Channuka, Channukah, Chanuka, Chanukah, Chanuko, Hannuka, Hanukkah, Hanuka, Hanukkah, Kanukkah, Khannuka, Khannukah, Khanuka, Khanukah, Khanukkah and Xanuka.

The literal translation means "dedication," but the word also shares the same root in Hebrew as "educate." Any way you spell it, the meaning is still the same in our hearts. It is a wonderful Festival of Light.

During the eight days of Chanukah, candles shine to brighten the night and family and friends gather to add warmth and their own light. The holiday is filled with tradition, delicious foods -- including latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (doughnuts) -- games, presents, songs and the story of Judah Maccabee.

Use these "artful" ideas to get your family in the Chanukah spirit!

Make a menorah

Chanukah is celebrated each year to share the story of a miracle and to rejoice in the Jewish faith. The candles that are lit throughout the eight days are held in a menorah. Families pass down these important objects from generation to generation as heirlooms.

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If you don't have an heirloom, you can visit a "make-your-own" pottery store and create your own family keepsake. Glaze and decorate a menorah for your children to light or to give to a new couple just starting out. This piece of art will be cherished by all those who use it, to fill their life with light.

Another temporary but fun way to make a menorah is to gather nine apples, and then use a melon baller to scoop out a vertical hole deep and wide enough to anchor and support a taper candle inside. Line up the apples in a row, and you have a beautiful natural menorah centerpiece. Surround it with other seasonal fruits or vegetables and leaves as decoration.

Create a Chanukah card

Make and send greeting cards from beautiful papers. Purchase blank cards and envelopes in your favorite color, and cut eight rectangular-shaped pieces of paper to represent the eight days of Chanukah. Glue them randomly on the front of the card, and then cut eight flames from white paper and glue them above the "candles." Inside the card write, "Wishing you a season filled with light, love and joy."

Light up the night

Because this holiday is all about light, make guests party favors out of a light. Glue pictures of each family or person onto small pillar candles with the message, "You make the world a brighter place."

Family feasting

Gather all the recipes for your favorite dishes and secret family recipes. Assemble a cookbook together with family photos to give to everyone next Chanukah.

Moments to treasure

Take a family photo each Chanukah, then frame it and display it with your images from all the years before (and remember to leave room for all the years to come). The faces will change in the images, but the feelings of love and tradition will remain.

Gift of giving

On each night of Chanukah, the children receive a gift. You can start a new tradition by asking your child to donate a gift to another child who is in need. Teach your children to be openhearted and generous. Ask them to join you at a nursing home or a hospital, and spend the evening sharing time, playing with dreidels and eating potatoes latkes with someone who might otherwise be all alone.

Embellish everything

Light up the world. When you invite families over for Chanukah, ask each to bring their favorite menorah. Have each family light their own candles and fill every window of your home with light. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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