Celebrating Hanukkah with a friend? Here's what to know before you go...
What to wear
Dress the way you would for a family dinner, but leave the Christmas sweaters at home. A cardi and button-down paired with khakis or a cute skirt is totally appropriate. Keep the makeup light and natural rather than glitzy, and you’re good to go.
What to bring
It’s always great to bring a hostess gift when you attend a nice dinner or a party. If you’re not quite sure what the family would appreciate (or what their customs are), try a pretty bouquet, a box of goodies from a nearby Jewish bakery or a pile of chocolate gelt.
How to act
Be respectful, and you won’t make a misstep. You won’t be leading any of the traditions, so you can follow your friend’s actions without fear. If something makes you uncomfortable, politely excuse yourself, but don’t worry about not knowing what to do next.
What you’re hearing
Before you partake of the Hanukkah feast, you’ll hear a bunch of words you won’t understand. These are traditional Hebrew blessings said over the candle being lit in the menorah once it is nightfall. Listen carefully—the words sound rather melodic when spoken well. There are three blessings. Here they are, translated into English:
1: Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who has sanctified us with Your commandments, and has commanded us to kindle the lights of Hanukkah.
2: Blessed are you, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who wrought miracles for our fathers in days of old, at this season.
3: Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who has kept us alive, and has preserved us, and enabled us to reach this time.
What you’re eating
It’s traditional during Hanukkah to eat fried foods. Why? Well, it all goes back to the story. The Hebrew word “Hanukkah” means “dedication.” The eight days and nights over which the holiday is celebrated commemorates the rededication of the holy temple in Jerusalem following battle. When the Jews won the battle, they returned to their temple, determined to purify it by burning ritual oil for eight days, but they only had enough oil for a single night. Miraculously, the menorah stayed lit for eight days instead of one, and so we celebrate by lighting candles for eight consecutive days, and eating fried food, which signifies the oil.
You’ll likely be served latkes, or fried potato pancakes. They’re delectable with sour cream and applesauce—try them with both! Jelly-filled doughnuts are also popular munchies.
What you’re doing