Hanukkah isn’t so much a tradition as a holiday we celebrate, and tonight happens to be the first night! I was actually raised Jewish, although my family celebrates both Hanukkah and Christmas (because it is so much more fun to open all your presents on Christmas morning)
Hanukkah (or Hannukah, or Chanukah, oh, how I wish there was one official spelling) has always been the more significant holiday to my family. I have great memories of lighting the candles every night, and even now, I’m sad I’m not always home every night to light them with my family. We always have a traditional meal of latkes (potato pancakes) and applesauce, and usually some kind of meat at least twice, and it’s always so, so good. We usually have a semi-controlled fight over the last latke, and recently we’ve started having menorah competitions. Since we all have our own menorah, we always watch to see whose candles go out last. Whoever’s menorah has the last candle standing is the winner. It’s totally arbitrary, but we get really into it. One year, we just all stood and stared at the remains of two candles, waiting to see which one would go out – and when it did, we cheered. Nerd alert!
We used to exchange presents, but now it’s more about spending time together, and lighting the candles, and eating the delicious foods.