How Different Countries Celebrate Hanukkah

Hanukkah is more than just a gift-giving holiday in many parts of the world. This Jewish festival is an opportunity to spend time with loved ones and learn about and participate in historical rituals and customs passed down from generation to generation. Here, we take a look at the 21 nations throughout the globe where Hanukkah is observed. Others have adapted modern rites or blended their new culture with ancient practices. In contrast, others maintain a strict adherence to tradition.

What is Hanukkah?

Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday. Hanukkah’s popularity has increased as the dates have moved closer to Christmas.

It commemorates the triumph of the Maccabean army in their attempt to retake Jerusalem’s Temple and the miracle of its restoration via the power of light. According to legend, the Maccabees barely possessed enough sanctified oil to burn in the temple’s massive lanterns daily. It was a wonder that the oil lasted for eight days and nights.

What are some of the traditional customs that are observed throughout Hanukkah?

On Hanukkah, a candelabra called a menorah with eight candles is lit in many Jewish homes. Throughout eight nights, one is lit each night. According to certain customs, the women of the house are expected to nap after burning the candles for a quarter of an hour or until they have entirely extinguished. During this time of togetherness, some families choose not to use technology, while others may choose to watch television specials about Hanukkah.

As it should be, there is a significant emphasis placed on food. Many tasty fried delights are familiar, which are the fatty and oily dishes representing the temple’s oil. Latkes, fried potato pancakes, or sweet delicacies like doughnuts cooked in olive oil are traditional foods that families might eat.

The family might play a game called a dreidel, a small spinning top with Hebrew characters written on all four sides. The Jewish people took a gambling game that was previously played in Germany and altered it. A centralized pot receives monetary contributions, chocolate, and other goodies from each participant. Who comes out on top is determined by how the dreidel lands.

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Which countries celebrate Hanukkah?


Hanukkah in Israel is huge. Jerusalem is lit with candles for eight nights. Many households have wall cutouts to display the family menorah for the neighborhood! Israeli Jews enjoy latkes and sufganiyot (jam-filled doughnuts). Oily foods represent the ancient temple’s lighting.


Hanukkah and Christmas in Australia both emphasize the importance of being together. Since it’s summer in the Southern Hemisphere, families spend the evening at home lighting candles before gathering for a block party the next day to remember the “festival of lights” and celebrate with the neighborhood. In Australia, there are thought to be between 100,000 and 150,000 Jews from various streams and movements.


In France, there are about 480,000 Jews who quietly observe Hanukkah. If you’re in Paris, visit Le Marais for great Middle Eastern and Jewish specialties. However, most are closed on Saturdays for the Sabbath. Jews in the Alsace region utilize double menorahs with 16 lights instead of the customary eight, allowing a father and son to light a candle together.


During the 16th and 17th centuries, the Jewish population began to arrive in northern Colombia, fleeing persecution in the Iberian peninsula. Many more people from all around the world joined in the centuries that followed. There are now roughly 8,000 practicing Jews in Colombia, with the bulk residing in Bogotá. While most Hanukkah rituals are standard, one Santa Marta neighborhood consumes fried plantain instead of potato latkes.


Did you know that India has 33 synagogues? Instead of using wax candles, Indian Jews dip the wicks in coconut oil. They frequently substitute barfi, a milk-based dessert with sweet fruits, for latkes.

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United States of America

In the United States, Hanukkah is frequently merely an occasion for exchanging gifts and eating together. Even mixed households observe “Christmukkuh,” combining the two December holidays. Americans exchange wrapped gifts more than any other nation; some even have a Hanukkah shrub. As the menorah is illuminated, giving a gift each night for eight facilities is customary.


In Yemen, the seventh night of Hanukkah has a special significance. On this day, women are honored in honor of the Torah’s heroines. According to legend, Hannah sacrificed seven sons to defend Judaism from Greek pressure to convert.


The Jews of Morocco do not prepare latkes. Instead, they construct spend doughnuts with orange juice and zest, which are in season during this time. Jews have lived in Morocco since Roman times, with an influx during the Spanish Inquisition traversing the Strait of Gibraltar.


Jews have lived in Rome since 160 BC. A 20-foot-tall candle is lit at Piazza Barberini to mark the holiday in the city’s center. What is Italy’s favorite Hanukkah treat? Precipizi. Small bread balls are fried and then sweetened with warm honey. They are served with wine.


Oddly enough, Ethiopian Jews only started enjoying Hanukkah a few years ago. Over time, the Jewish people lost touch with other groups and didn’t know about the traditional Torah. It meant that they didn’t enjoy this holiday or any others, but now that they are back together, they have started doing things the same way.


Hungary has the third-largest Jewish population in Europe, and Budapest is a magical place to visit this time of year. Up until recently, celebrations have been low-key. Still, you can expect to see streets lit with lights and multiple menorahs in old Jewish neighborhoods, events, and special Hanukkah meals and dishes at local restaurants. Don’t be shocked if you see a rabbi ice skating.

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Unsurprisingly, over 250,000 Jews call London, England’s urban center and capital, home. Every year, thousands of people gather to watch a massive menorah be lit in CodedHits Square.


It is estimated that three million Jews in Poland perished in the Holocaust. These days, Hanukkah is widely celebrated in Poland. Public events are attended by the president and administration to represent unity and harmony with the Jewish community. All around the country, menorahs have been lit.


The Iranian Hanukkah celebrations are more religious in nature than secular. For over 3,000 years, the Jewish people in Iran have gathered in these synagogues and temples to commemorate the holiday, attend religious services, and read prayer books.


Since the first Jews arrived in Canada in 1760, the country’s Jewish population has been carrying on the holiday of Hanukkah and all of its associated customs ever since.

Most Jewish households in Canada observe the festival as a secular custom similar to Christmas. This includes giving and receiving presents and consuming cuisine unique to the family’s homeland; in the same way, the United States is a melting pot of cultures and traditions in this region.


Germany will never recover from the Holocaust when the Nazis killed 6 million Jews. The nation lights a giant menorah at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate each year.


Revolution Square has a giant menorah in Moscow. Thousands attend the ritual, which includes a choir concert and traditional music, to witness the flames light.


Many Sephardic Jews fled the Spanish Inquisition to Turkey, especially Istanbul. “Ocho Candelas” and burritos are a Ladino custom.

That is how Hanukkah is observed in 18 different nations each year. Comment if you plan to prepare Jewish dishes or observe any Hanukkah customs.

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