Do you know why many people prefer 'Happy Holidays' instead of 'Merry Christmas' as a greeting? Because Christmas isn't the only holiday to be celebrated at this time of year. Sure, the latter is the most festive, the most colorful, and some may argue, the happiest among all of them, but it's not the only one. There's also Hanukkah, a celebration in the Jewish faith. It's a special holiday where, just like Christmas, it's spent with friends and family. Even Paris celebrates it as significantly as it does with Christmas. And here's how to join in the fun while at home in the city!
Get The Family All Together
First thing's first, get the family altogether. And they don't have to be there physically! It's no secret that holding big gatherings, even when it's for a good cause like celebrating Hanukkah, isn't exactly the right thing to do right now. The Covid-19 pandemic is still at large and Paris, as well as other cities and countries around the world, is encouraged to stay at home for the time being. Thank goodness for programs like Zoom
that allows you to video call your family wherever they are and still have a nice Hanukkah celebration where you're all complete!
Light Up the Menorah
While the Christians have the Christmas tree, the Jews have the Menorah. However, while the former is more or less just for decoration, the latter has a deeper meaning than just providing light. The Menorah is the centerpiece of Hanukkah and lighting it up during this holiday is the most important part. Hanukkah became a traditional holiday when the Maccabees defeated the Syrian Greeks to reclaim the 'Holy Land,' including a temple where the first 'lighting of the Menorah' was held. The miracle in the story is that the oil, which should have lasted for one day, lasted for eight whole days, helping light up all the candles of the Menorah. And thus, Hanukkah was born!
Stream A Religious Service
Some would argue that there are as many synagogues in Paris as there are Catholic churches. There's one in the Marais district
, one in the 9th arrondissement
, and so on and so forth. But, as already mentioned, going to these religious temples with many people, or even with just your family alone, isn't a good idea right now. Fortunately, also thanks to the internet, you can stream religious services online. Open up your desktop or laptop, connect them to the TV if you can, and listen to the religious readings and service. That way, you can still celebrate Hanukkah faithfully.
Only Serve Jewish Pastries
Parisian pastries, especially those reserved for the holidays, are some of the best in the world, but they're hardly appropriate for Hanukkah. Jewish people have their own taste set of pastries and they're served especially for this particular holiday. Savory latkes, scrumptious jelly donuts, and more make up most of the menu for a true and authentic Hanukkah celebration at home. Of course, if you don't know how to make them, you'll probably need to go outside to buy some. Luckily, a good many bakeries make them, most especially in the Jewish District in the 4th arrondissement
Hold a Dreidel Contest
You've probably seen a dreidel before, right? They're these square-shaped, almost dice-like tops that many kids play when they're bored. Well, more than just a toy, it's actually a religious artifact of sorts. On the four sides of the dreidel are Hebrew letters that spell out the phrase, 'Nes Gadol haya sham
.' In English, this means, 'A great miracle occurred there.' This, of course, refers to the miracle of the Menorah that started Hanukkah in the first place. Now, the toy may seem like your ordinary top but it's a little trickier than the standard ones. So much so that a fun way to celebrate Hanukkah is to hold a dreidel playing contest to see which one can get his/her spinning the longest!
There's Always Room for Gifts
Finally, although gift-giving is more for Christmas than Hanukkah, there's no reason you can't give someone you love something special. Although most people give gifts during this holiday because it coincided with Christmas, it's become somewhat of a tradition within the Jewish faith nowadays. You don't have to go all out as you would with Christmas gifts, just something nice will do. Remember, gifts aren't as important in Hanukkah as it is in Christmas, So whatever it is you want to give to your loved ones, no matter how big or small or how cheap or expensive, it'll do just fine!
Just because you have to stay at home, even when you're in Paris, that doesn't mean you have to stop celebrating Hanukkah! There are many ways to go about your traditions for this special holiday even when you're just at home!
Wherever you may be spending your Hanukkah in Paris, let's hope you're doing so with your family in a luxury rental
! It'll make it more comfortable and fun, after all!