Thursday, December 8, 2011
What is a Good Hanukkah Gift?
Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday also known as the Festival of Lights that lasts for eight days and is usually celebrated by giving gifts. So what is a good Hanukkah gift? Traditionally a menorah or Hanukkah gelt would be a wonderful first Hanukkah gift. A menorah is a nine armed candlestick and one candle is lit each night until finally all eight candles are lit by the eighth night. The extra or ninth candle are a Shamash, which is "guard" in Hebrew. This candle is lit to light the other candles with.
Hanukkah gelt is the gift of some type of money for Hanukkah . This can be real money i.e., a savings bond, cash, check, or even pretend money like chocolate coins. What child do you know that doesn't like chocolate? Or better yet doesn't like money? Hanukkah gelt has been a traditional Hanukkah gift and is important to children in teaching the tradition of Hanukkah, which is to increase charity and good deeds, by giving.
It may seem a little like bribery to give Hanukkah gelt, but only because it is! Giving Hanukkah gelt as a Hanukkah gift is an important component of the process of educating. Until a child has reached a sufficient age and fully appreciates the Torah, then incentives such as Hanukkah gelt are typically used to gain attention. Once the true meaning is understood other items are typically given as gifts. This is a smart approach to obtain the attention from a child.
The giving of Hanukkah gifts is equally important and is typically a very well thought out an organized event. Hanukkah gifts are given each night over the eight days, and in some families, Hanukkah gelt is given each night too. However usually as Hanukkah gifts are given out on the fourth or fifth night, the monetary Hanukkah gifts are increased to larger amounts.
Other traditional Hanukkah gifts such as the dreidl are well known throughout the world. A dreidl is a four sided spinning top and has a letter from the Hebrew alphabet on each side. It is used for a gambling game called Teetotum, and each letter has a different meaning. Traditionally a dreidl is given with a roll of pennies for gambling with. The letters on the dreidl form an acronym, "Nes Gadol Haya Sham" which means "A great miracle happened here. The statement refers to the miracle that occurred in Israel. Another popular gift is a gift of generosity, where children are often taught to "give" themselves by taking gifts to homeless shelter or giving gifts to their family members.
As with any other holiday there are traditional and non traditional gifts, and Hanukkah gifts are no exception. Whether you give Chanukah gelt as a Hanukkah gift, or you give a sweater, there is no wrong Hanukkah gift to give, since it comes from the heart. When your gift is well thought out and given with genuine love, then the gift is always perfect.