Hanukkah for Kids

Happy Hanukkah! Welcome to Activity Village's page on Hanukkah for kids! We've got all sorts of Hanukkah activities for children here, including printable colouring pages, puzzles, fun printable worksheets and other activities, and original. quick and easy Hanukkah crafts.

Happy Hanukkah!

In 2021, Hanukkah will begin on 28th November and finish on 6th December.

What is Hanukkah?

Hanukkah (also known as Chanukah) is the Jewish Festival of Lights and lasts eight days. It usually falls in late November or December.

Jews celebrate Hanukkah to commemorate the Miracle of the Oil. The Hebrew word Hanukkah means "dedication". Over 2000 years ago, in 165 BC, the Jews in Judea rebelled against their Syrian ruler, Antiochus, because he insisted that all Jewish people must worship Greek Gods. After three hard years of fighting, the Jews defeated Antiochus and, to celebrate, they restored the Temple of Jerusalem - which had been taken over by the Syrians - and rededicated it to their God.

As part of the celebrations they lit an oil lamp which should have been kept burning all the time, even though they could only find enough oil to keep it burning for one night. But a miracle occurred, and the oil lamp stayed lit for eight days, which was the time it took to make new oil for the lamp. This  was the Miracle of the Oil. 

It was then declared that every year, Jews would remember the day with an eight-day Festival of Lights and celebrate the miracle of the oil by placing eight candles in a Menorah (a special candlestick) and lighting one candle for each evening of the celebration. Electric lights are sometimes used, especially where where an open flame might be dangerous, such as a hospital room. The Hanukkah lights are meant to remind those walking by the home about the holiday’s miracle, so the Menorah is displayed at a prominent window or near the front door.

Lighting the menorah

During Hanukkah, people exchange gifts and give to the poor and needy.

Spinning the dreidel
Spinning the dreidel, a traditional Hanukkah symbol

Whether you are celebrating Hanukkah as a family, or learning about Hanukkah, we hope that you will find our Hanukkah activities useful! Explore below.

Our Hanukkah Activities for Kids

Hanukkah Colouring Pages
We've got a lovely collection of Hanukkah colouring pages here for you to download, print and...
Hanukkah Colouring Cards
Print out a Hanukkah colouring card for the kids to colour and give to friends or family for the...
Hanukkah Crafts for Kids
The main symbol of Hanukkah is the Menorah, and we have a number of Menorah craft ideas here to...
Hanukkah Dot to Dots
Do your kids like dot to dot pictures? Here's our special collection of Hanukkah dot to dots...
Hanukkah Printables
Enjoy Hanukkah at home or at school with these useful and fun Hanukkah printables! We've got...
Hanukkah Fuse Bead Patterns
Here's an original idea for Hanukkah! Our Hanukkah fuse bead patterns can be used with Hama...
Hanukkah Puzzles
Have a go at some Hanukkah puzzles with the kids this year - they are great for keeping them busy...
Hanukkah Worksheets
Explore our collection of fun, engaging Hanukkah worksheets to brighten up your classroom during...

3 Interesting Facts About Hanukkah

  • Did you know that the famous four-sided spinning top called a dreidel was invented as a distraction? When the Greek-Syrians banned Jewish studies, the Jews spun their dreidels to look like they were just playing games when they were actually engaged with their scripture.
  • Many families hand out chocolate coins covered in gold and silver foil called gelt. Gelt is also sometimes won in a game of Dreidel!
  • Much of the food celebrated at Hanukkah is fried, to celebrate the Miracle of the Oil. This includes apple fritters, latkes and jelly donuts called sufganiyot.

How Do You Explain Hanukkah to Children?

As Hanukkah arrives it's a great opportunity to teach the kids more about the eight-day festival of lights. There are some Jewish celebrations that are more important to Jews than Hanukkah - such as Passover - but because Hanukkah falls around the end of year "holiday season" including Christmas and Thankgiving, it has become better known amongst non-Jews.

We can explain Hanukkah to children by telling them how it commemorates the story of a mircaulous lamp which burned for eight nights. The main focusof the celebration is the lighting of the menorah, which holds nine candles including the helper candle (shamash) that is used to light the other eight candle. We've written a short and easy version of the story of Hanukkah which you can use with your kids - as follows:

The Story of Hanukkah - for Kids

Here is a simple explanation of the story of Hanuakkah, told in an simple way for children.

The story of Hanukkah begins more than 2,000 years ago, when a cruel King named Antiochus Epiphanes ruled the Greek-Syrian Kingdom and banned all Jewish rituals and traditions. The King tried to make the Jewish people pray to Greek Gods and bow down in front of a statue of him that he placed in the Jewish temple.

A small group of Jews called the Maccabees fought back and defeated Antiochus Epiphanes, but their temple was destroyed. They then repaired and cleaned the temple, and lit an oil lamp to rededicate it to their own god. There was only enough oil to burn the lamp for one day, but to their surprise the same jug of sacred oil burned for eight more nights. This became known as the Miracle of the Oil, and is the reason why the festival of Hanukkah lasts for eight days and why candle lighting is such an important part of the celebrations.


"The darkness of the whole world cannot swallow the glowing of a candle."
Robert Altinger


More Jewish Holidays

Passover
Passover

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