Chanukah & Hanukkah gifting tips November 17 2013

As explored in our Discovering Diwali blog, we admit we still have much to learn about many of the occasions celebrated throughout culturally diverse Ottawa.  As a service that aspires to serve all gifting occasions, we have made it our mission to expand our knowledge of different cultural celebrations and now we are slightly embarrassed by how little we knew about the Jewish holiday Chanukah.

This year Chanukah (known as Hanukkah because those who aren't Jewish often can't pronounce the "ch" sound) begins the evening of November 27th and ends December 5th.  One of the best-known Jewish holidays in North America, Hanukkah is an 8-day commemoration of the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

As with many cultural celebrations, gift giving wasn't always a focus and if gifts were exchanged they were often representations of the celebration; such as Menorah candles, oils to fry food, dreidels, or gold coins.

Today Hanukkah gift giving has evolved and some families have one day of gifts at the end or beginning of the 8-day celebration, while others do small gifts each day.  Some upkeep the more traditional celebration of Hanukkah, which simply consists of a family gathering over a meal of foods fried in oil and the ceremonial lighting of one candle of the Menorah each night. Regardless of the gift giving traditions your loved ones follow, the most important thing to remember when giving gifts during Hanukkah is to be respectful of the occasion.  Here are some important things to consider when Hanukkah gift shopping:

  1. Hanukah is not the Jewish Christmas:  It is important to remember it is it's own, unique religious holiday.  Referring to it as the "Jewish Christmas" is a no-no.
  2. Pay attention to timing: The holiday is 8 days long (Nov 27-Dec 5), so gifts should be received in that window.  This is not the Jewish Christmas, so Hanukkah gifts shouldn't be given on or near Dec 25th.
  3. Be mindful:  This is a gift that should be celebrating Hanukkah.  Would you give someone an Easter basket for Christmas? Same rules apply.  It is not the time to buy gifts with Santa on them or give a box full of red and white candy canes.
  4. Shop appropriately: There are many gifts appropriate for Hanukkah.  Books, toys, jewelry, electronics, beauty and body products, baked goods, wine and cash are gifts that are commonly given.  As always, the best gifts consider the recipient's wants, needs and interests.  (See our Tips for Gifts blog post for tips on how to give a great gift every time.)
  5. Gift traditionally:  Gifts such as dreidel, bags of chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil, Menorah candles or fine cooking oils are appropriate and well received.  Also, if making any meals for Hanukkah celebrations, make sure they are kosher.
  6. Use Hanukkah colours:  Hanukkah colours are blue and white.  Don't give a gift wrapped in red and white as those are Christmas holiday colours.  Silver is also sometimes used in decorations.

As always, we can't express enough that it is the thought, love and intention behind the gift that really warms the heart and matters most.


Happy Hanukkah!