Tips for a Happy and Safe Hanukkah!

Look around during the winter holiday season and you’ll probably see lots of lights! From flashing LED ornaments to elaborate house decorations, festive lights are a beloved and colorful part of the holiday season. But during Hanukkah, which begins on Tuesday, lights become much more than just pretty decorations.

The History of Hanukkah

Hanukkah, sometimes spelled as Chanukah, is a Jewish winter holiday. It commemorates the rededication of a temple in Jerusalem during a revolt in 164 BCE. The temple, under the rule of Syrian Greeks during the Seleucid Empire, had been turned into a pagan shrine, but the Jewish people, led by a group called the Maccabees, were able to reclaim it. They then cleaned and rededicated to their god. The rededication celebrations went on for eight days, and according to legend, a very small amount of oil in the temple burned for the entirety of the celebration.

Today, the rededication of the temple is celebrated much like it was in 164 BCE: over an eight-day period, with candles and light playing central roles. During Hanukkah, Jewish people light a menorah, an eight-branched candelabrum, lighting one candle per night. They also enjoy foods cooked in oil, which commemorates the miraculously burning oil. The most well-known of these fried foods is latkes, or potato pancakes. In modern times, Hanukkah has also become a holiday for gift-giving, and children might receive a small treat on each of the eight nights.

Hanukkah Safety

Since it involves candles, flames, and cooking with oil, Hanukkah celebrations have the potential to lead to lots of mishaps, minor injuries, or even a dangerous disaster. To keep things safe during the Festival of Lights, here are a few tips to follow:

  • Never leave lit menorahs unattended. They could be knocked over by a child or pet, and the flames could come into contact with other objects in the home, leading to a rapidly spreading fire. For the same reason, menorahs and other candles should be kept in safe places that aren’t readily accessible to small children, or in a place where a pet could knock it over.
  • If a menorah is electric, it should be unplugged when not in use. Keep small children away from the sockets, which pose an electrocution risk.
  • Check the smoke detectors before Hanukkah begins.
  • When cooking with oil, never leave the stove unattended. Oil can quickly and easily catch fire, and putting out a fire requires a quick reaction.
  • If the oil catches on fire, do not attempt to use water to put it out! This will only make the fire spread. Instead, smother the flames using a lid or large baking tray, and immediately turn down the heat.
  • Don’t pour oil don’t the sink, because it can cause clogging.
  • Check any toys given to children for any defects or danger, including small and easily breakable parts.

Have a Happy and Safe Hanukkah!


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