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How to Celebrate Hanukkah All 8 Nights

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Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, commemorates each of the eight days a one-day supply of oil lasted during the the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire, yet many casual American observers celebrate the holiday for just one night, often recognizing and fêting the miracle over a large family dinner on the first day of Hanukkah—this year, on December 6.

We love this tradition—and any that involves a large family dinner, for that matter—but for those looking to celebrate Hanukkah for the full eight nights, here are some crafts, games, and food to make to keep the celebration going:

Photo by Linda Xiao

Night 1:

The first night of Hanukkah this year falls on a Sunday. If you have the day free, invite your family over to help you craft a chanukiah from scratch—it's simple enough that the little ones can jump in and help too!

Night 2:

Make a feast to last you through the week—with latkes and applesauce, jelly doughnuts (we can't guarantee these will last much longer than tomorrow at breakfast), and brisket.

Here's your menu:

Variegated Spiced Latkes

Variegated Spiced Latkes by Sagegreen

Cranberry-Ginger Jam Donuts

Cranberry-Ginger Jam Donuts by Yossy Arefi

Nach Waxman's Brisket of Beef

Nach Waxman's Brisket of Beef by Genius Recipes

Judy Rodgers' Roasted Applesauce (and Savory Apple Charlottes)

Judy Rodgers' Roasted Applesauce (and Savory Apple Charlo... by Genius Recipes

Night 3:

Food plays a huge role in all of our holiday celebrations, but considering how much you cooked last night, you probably don't need to make more tonight (though we'll never discourage that!). Take a break from the cooking tonight, enjoy the gift that is leftovers, and play a round of dreidel—who says it's just for kids? If you've never played or need a refresher, here's a helpful guide.

Night 4:

Break from tradition and swap out doughnuts for a recipe that actually pre-dates the doughnut tradition: zengoula. These crispy coils of dough, or, as we like to think of them, the original funnel cake, were made by Iraqi Jews centuries ago. This version is soaked in fresh lemon syrup—which is to say, we'll be doubling the recipe.

Zengoula with Lemon Syrup (Iraqi Funnel Cakes)

Zengoula with Lemon Syrup (Iraqi Funnel Cakes)

Alice Medrich Alice Medrich
Makes 8 servings

For the syrup:

  • 2 to 3 lemons
  • 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) water
  • 1 cup (200 grams) sugar

For the dough and for frying:

  • 1 1/8 teaspoons (1/2 package) active dry yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups (300 milliliters) warm water (100° F to 110° F), divided
  • 1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (95 grams) cornstarch
  • Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 quarts mild oil with medium-high smoke point, such as grapeseed, sunflower, or avocado, for deep-frying
Go to Recipe

Night 5:

Photo by James Ransom

Play with your latke—now is as good a time as any to perfect your latke recipe, and make it your own. The crispy potato pancakes are the perfect foundation for creating your own traditions. Use different types of potatoes (sweet potatoes!), add cheese, spices, and toppings. Here's a "Not Recipe" to get you started.

Night 6:

Make a challah tonight for the Sabbath (and turn it into brunch for tomorrow morning!). Here are a few recipes to get your challah-day rolling:

Jessica Fechtor's Five-Fold Challah

Jessica Fechtor's Five-Fold Challah by Genius Recipes

Ima's Challah

Ima's Challah by Rivka

Challah Bread Pudding with Raspberries

Challah Bread Pudding with Raspberries by Kendra Vaculin

French Toast Sticks

French Toast Sticks by Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm

Night 7:

Throw a latke party! Invite your friends over—the promise of crispy, fried potatoes will ensure they'll come running, no matter where you live—and follow some of these tips to make perfectly fried latkes for a crowd (without having to spend the entire evening over a vat of canola oil).

  • Rid your potato mixture of as much moisture as possible so they fry quickly and crispy up perfectly.
  • Pan-fry your latkes ahead of time, then freeze them on a baking sheet, and throw them in the oven when guests arrive.
  • Tap guests in to help ease the burden of frying all the latkes yourself.
Photo by James Ransom

Night 8:

Light the final candle on your DIY chanukiah, finish all your leftovers, and make yourself a giant jelly doughnut cake—then invite over everyone you know to have a slice.

Happy Hanukkah!

Automagic Holiday Menu Maker!
Automagic Holiday Menu Maker!

Tags: Holiday, Tips & Techniques, Holiday Entertaining