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Health & Wellbeing 3rd November 2023

Celebrating Hanukkah: Activity Ideas for a Joyous Festival 

By Lee Gilbert

Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is a beautiful and meaningful holiday that is celebrated by Jewish communities around the world. For care homes, it’s an opportunity to create a warm and inclusive environment where the people you support can participate in Hanukkah-themed activities, learn about traditions, and enjoy the festive spirit. Here are some creative activity ideas to make Hanukkah special. 

Menorah Lighting Ceremony 

The centrepiece of Hanukkah is the lighting of the menorah, a nine-branched candelabrum. The people you support can gather to light the menorah’s candles each night, recite blessings, and sing traditional songs. This symbolic ritual fosters a sense of community and tradition. 

Hanukkah Crafts 

Organise a crafting session where the people you support can make their own menorahs or dreidels (spinning tops). Provide art supplies and guidance to create personalised Hanukkah decorations. These crafts can be displayed around the care service to add to the festive atmosphere. 

Storytelling and History 

Arrange storytelling sessions about the history and significance of Hanukkah. Share tales of the Maccabees and the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days. Engaging discussions and storytelling can help connect with the holiday’s cultural and historical roots. 

Traditional Hanukkah Foods 

Hanukkah is known for its delicious foods, such as latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly-filled doughnuts). Host a cooking class or bring in a chef to prepare these traditional treats with the people you support. Sharing a meal together can be a lovely way to celebrate. 

Musical Entertainment 

Invite musicians or local choirs to perform Hanukkah songs and melodies. Music has the power to evoke memories and emotions, making it a wonderful addition to the festivities. 

Hanukkah Games 

Organize Hanukkah-themed games like a dreidel-spinning competition or Hanukkah bingo. These games are not only enjoyable but also an opportunity to educate about Hanukkah traditions and symbols. 

Hanukkah Movie Nights 

Screen Hanukkah-themed movies or documentaries about Jewish culture. This can be a relaxed and enjoyable way for everyone to learn more about the holiday or celebrate. 

Donations and Tzedakah 

Hanukkah emphasizes the value of giving and helping others. Set up a donation station for the people you support to contribute to charitable causes. This act of tzedakah (charity) aligns with the spirit of Hanukkah. 

Hanukkah Decorations 

Transform your care service into a festive space with Hanukkah-themed decorations. Blue and white colour schemes, menorahs, and Star of David motifs can be used to create a cheerful atmosphere. 

Celebrating Hanukkah in care homes provides an opportunity for the people you support to come together, learn, and embrace the joy of this special holiday. Through a combination of traditional activities, cultural enrichment, and community building, care homes can ensure that the people you support have a memorable and heart-warming Hanukkah celebration. These activities promote a sense of togetherness and the sharing of traditions, creating a meaningful experience for everyone involved. 

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