Hi and happy week-after-Thanksgiving, EHD readers! I’m VERY excited to be here today to talk about all things Hanukkah: why celebrating it matters more than ever in 2020, why celebrating anything matters right now, and—this is EHD, after all!—how to make your celebration look as wonderful as it feels.
(Side note: I know not everyone out there celebrates Hanukkah. But I hope you’ll stick around either way! No matter your background, I think that what I’m going to say will likely resonate with you, too.)
Alright, let’s get to it. So…first of all, who am I, and what qualifications do I have to speak on this topic? Well, by day, I’m an editor; by night, I run a Jewish lifestyle blog, aptly titled RebekahLowin.com (find it on Instagram here!). On the site, I share crafty, creative ideas for beautifying Jewish holidays—inspired home décor, pretty table settings, sophisticated DIYs, and new takes on old-school recipes. My personal thesis is simply that adding a layer of tangible beauty to any respectful, heartfelt celebration of these holidays is just one more way of elevating and honoring them.
As for the question about my qualifications, well…I just love the holiday. Always have. And the further we venture into 2020, the more I can’t imagine not giving it its full and proper due this month.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. It’s 2020. You’re just plain tired. The last thing on your mind right now is schlepping out a menorah, frying up a batch of potato pancakes, and singing songs about questionably-constructed clay dreidels. You’re more interested in simply making it through the next week without toppling over yourself.
Trust me: I get it. I truly do. But hear me out: In 2020, finding the oomph to light a menorah matters more than ever. Well, let me rephrase that: This year, celebrating anything matters more than ever—be it Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Diwali, Christmas, or National Maple Syrup Day (that’s December 17, by the way, for the woefully uninitiated). As the days get shorter and our hours at home get longer, continuing to mark time with our favorite rituals, festivals, and holy days has become even more important. Especially when the ritual in question is a metaphor for the one thing we so desperately need more of right now: light.
Admittedly, I never thought too hard about the metaphor of Hanukkah as a child. I mean, don’t get me wrong: I knew the Hanukkah story by heart. I knew we were celebrating a miracle, and like most kids, I think I even recognized on some deep, instinctive level that there was something very beautiful and even profound about the whole thing. But I didn’t yet understand that Hanukkah—and all aspects of my Judaism, for that matter—was part of this intricate web of interconnectedness called life. That traditions and dusty stories are often about much more than days long ago.
Hanukkah, back then, was more like…a feeling. Just a snug, cozy feeling accompanied by a series of images. In my mind’s eye, I can still see it that way: crumpled-up foil wrappers from chocolate gelt, glorious messes of sticky-sweet sufganiyot, and the shock of cold apple sauce on top of my grandmother’s warm latkes (unlike the crispy recipes everyone seems to gravitate toward today, these ones were deliciously flat and pillowy, like actual pancakes). “Hanukkah” meant hearing my dad recite the sing-song blessings over the candles in Hebrew, then watching him turn to chat with my grandparents in his familiar but foreign Yiddish. Most of all, Hanukkah meant packing close together with my many siblings in our family kitchen, waiting patiently for our turn to wield the shamesh and light eight nights’ worth of candles—then watch them flicker and silently burn in front of our dark kitchen windows.
Only years later did it start to click for me—the deeper meaning embedded in those colorful, melty candles. I began to understand something that I’m still in the process of understanding: that those candles were placed there to teach my siblings and I about far more than just a one-time miracle from thousands of years ago. That they also represented the daily, if not hourly, if not perpetual miracle that is a glimpse of beauty in a sometimes dark world. I’ve since thought about how brightly each flame shone against the backdrop of that deep, black, suburban night; how it was, in fact, their reflection in that window that made them doubly mesmerizing, doubly wonderful to stare at. Beauty, the candles continue to teach us from their annual perch on our windowsills, is easier to see in relief.
2020 hurt. There’s just no way around that. For so many, this was a year of total devastation and destruction. But there’s something familiar here: another deep, dark backdrop. A new night sky. And embedded within it is the same invitation: to light our proverbial candles. To place our menorahs back on the windowsill of this dark time. To light our lights, knowing that they might only be a pinprick in all that darkness, but as the stars teach us, one pinprick of light is sometimes enough to guide a person all the way home.
Okay. That’s quite enough philosophizing for one day. Now you know why we should continue celebrating; next, let’s talk about how. After all, lighting candles is only one of the many tangible ways we can bring the glow of Hanukkah into our homes at this time of year. Below, you’ll find a few more ideas to help you out—from shiny menorahs to stunning blue vases and beyond.
1. Gold Centerpiece Bowl | 2. Veru Platter | 3. Tapered Candles (set of 10) | 4. Oval Ceramic Dish | 5. Golden Geo Table Linen Napkin | 6. London Blue Hurricane Candle Holders | 7. Mercury Tealight Holder (set of 6) | 8. Gold Flatware | 9. Constellation Salad Plate | 10. Metallic Scalloped Reine Chargers (set of 4) | 11. Tempeste Platter | 12. Tealight Candles (set of 24) | 13. Sweater Weather Mug | 14. Aria Gold Napkin Ring | 15. Hanukkah Rectangular Platter | 16. Small Blue Studio Salad Bowl | 17. Constellation Coasters (set of 4) | 18. Mesh Bag Of Hanukkah Gelt (set of 5) | 19. Indigo Blue Cotton Slub Napkins With Fringe (set of 4) | 20. Gold Rimmed Glass Tealight Candleholders (set of 3) | 21. Marble & Brass Napkin Rings (set of 4) | 22. Ombre Blue Ceramic Plate Dinner Plate | 23. Lyngby Blue Glass Vases | 24. Gold Cake Knife
As is the case with most Jewish holidays, Hanukkah is very much a food holiday. And since this particular festival’s origins revolve around oil, there’s a big emphasis on fried food: latkes, of course, but also jelly doughnuts (“sufganiyot”). In the past few years, there have even been a few out-of-the-box additions to the menu (churros, anyone?). This is all to say that you’re likely to spend a lot of time at your dinner table during the eight-day celebration…and that’s really the only excuse we needed to hunt for some lovely new tabletop treasures. Even if you’re not planning on hosting anyone other than your immediate family members, there’s no reason why you can’t indulge in a few new napkin rings (#14 and #21), a beautiful platter (#4), or some inspired navy taper candles (#3).
Of course, you don’t need to relegate all that prettiness to the table alone…
AROUND THE HOUSE DECOR
1. Gold Happy Hanukkah Garland | 2. Marmol Radziner Dreidel | 3. Faux Eucalyptus | 4. Blue Apothecary Matches Jar | 5. Silver LED Fairy Lights | 6. Melchior Holiday Pillow | 7. Brass Vase | 8. Tassel Garland | 9. Hanukkah Watercolor Dreidels Wall Art | 10. Unlit Shimmering Dreidel Hanukkah Garland | 11. Burst Decorative Object | 12. Mini Led String Lights | 13. Blue Abstract Series, 1 | 14. Chunky Knit Throw Blanket | 15. Gold Cocktail Shaker
Traditionally, Hanukkah is associated with deep blues and sparkling golds (the same color as those shiny gelt wrappers). Of course, you don’t have to stick with these colors—as always, it’s really up to you which direction you’d like to take things in. If you want to have a pink Hanukkah, go for it. But here, we’ve stuck to the basics to bring you a selection of off-the-table décor that’s equal parts fresh and classic. Add a few gold faux flowers here and there (#3), liven things up with a shimmering banner (#10), or just toss a cozy cable knit throw onto your couch to up the blue factor without totally up-ending your space (#14). The simplest details can have a big, big impact.
Finally, it’s time to add the pièce de resistance—a beautiful menorah.
1. Trace Chanukiah | 2. Ascalon Menorah | 3. Modern Brass Candleholders (set of 9) | 4. Mid Century Modern Menorah | 5. SIN Stacked Menorah | 6. Blacksmith Handmade 9 Branch Iron Hanukkah Menorah | 7. Floral Menorah | 8. Handmade Ceramic “Shana” Menorah | 9. Typography Menorah | 10. Modern Hanukkah Menorah | 11. Blue & White Ceramic Hand Painted Petite Menorah | 12. Modern Silver Menorah | 13. Minimalist Hanukkah Menorah | 14. Marmol Radziner Menorah | 15. Olive Branch Collection Menorah
As mentioned earlier, the menorah really is the focal point of any Hanukkah celebration—and not just because it’s fun to light and stare at. It’s also the literal centerpiece of the Hanukkah story from way back when. After all, it was the menorah that housed the very small amount of oil that miraculously burned for eight whole days…and resulted in the celebration of Hanukkah as we know it today. Here, you’ll find a selection of menorahs that are every bit as beautiful as their origin story. They’re also surprisingly affordable: That floral menorah (#10) is just $30.
These also aren’t your great-aunt’s menorahs, mind you (not that there’s anything wrong with your menorah collection, Sasha; I LOVE YOU!!!). They’re sleek, updated, and thoroughly modern. Take the Studio Armadillo Ceramic Menorah (#13)—it’s stunning and offers a new take on the classic menorah shape and style. The Michael Aram Olive Branch Menorah (#15) is also a fabulous, decidedly different pick (and my personal favorite of the bunch). Whatever you choose, you really can’t go wrong here.
Phew! Well, I think that’s it for today. I sincerely hope these ideas got you in the mood to transform your home into a veritable Hanukkah wonderland, or at least to add one or two fun details to your entryway, tabletop, kitchen, or windowsill. The holiday, after all, is in just TK days…so now’s the time.
If you’re in the mood for more inspiration, you can always check out my blog or follow along on Instagram—it’s basically Hanukkah central on both of those platforms right now. I’ve got you covered with star-shaped cheese boards, latke platters, adorable Maccabee Cookie Boxes, tons of gift guides, Hanukkah quotes and poems, flower arrangement ideas, and my favorite post of the moment—this DIY tie-dye runner. Whether you’re celebrating the Festival of Lights this month or simply celebrating hot chocolate season (the BEST), I’m wishing you a beautiful, joyful month filled with all good things.
Design and Photos by Rebekah Lowin
Loved this post. Thank you.
Thank you for doing this post. Our house is both Hindu and Jewish (Hinjews, as we say) and we love being able to celebrate both traditions. You’re right, Rebekah, it’s even more important this year to find moments of light and joy, in any way we can. Thanks for that reminder. Chag sameach!
I love this! I have friends who are Hindu/Catholic.
What a beautiful combination of traditions. I love that. Thanks so much for reading, Sahaja!!
Loved this post. I’m a Catholic so don’t celebrate Hanukkah, but I think you correctly highlighted some of the reasons we need to continue our traditional celebrations despite how hard/rough/awful 2020 has been. As humans we need comfort, familiarity, and hope. Traditional celebrations give us a small relief from the awfulness that’s going on around us. So even as my Thanksgiving was a solo affair, I still got to revel in my extra-long walk and seeing decorations go up in my neighborhood.
I had to pick out just one sentence/phrase to repost down here in the comments (because otherwise I’d be posting the entire “header” before all the goodies…your writing on this is just that good), but this line really jumped out at me, “…they also represented the daily, if not hourly, if not perpetual miracle that is a glimpse of beauty in a sometimes dark world.” Thanks for the reminder to look for the beauty around us even in the midst of these hard times.
Thank you so much for the kind words, friend! This was so nice to read, and I’m really glad the post resonated with you. Comfort, familiarity, and hope—yup, these things matter more than ever. <3
Much appreciated post. I’m glad Hanukkah gets its own post for once 🙂
Wonderful post – thank you!
Love this! I’m an agnostic-raised-catholic and this is my first December living with my sweet Jewish fiancé. We’re figuring out each other’s holiday traditions and ways to mix and match that work for us. I love the blue and gold color scheme and beautiful menorahs. I thought the traditional pattern was blue and silver? But I could be wrong and I love the golden touches!
This is SO beautifully written (and styled)! What magic is there in the Jewish tradition that produces such amazing and thoughtful writers? This felt like reading something by one of my best friends (an amazing rabbi who has often brought me to tears with her writing), and it was like getting a hug from her. I’m gonna go make sure she follows you – probably does already – but thank you for this! Lots of eye candy AND lots to think about.
Meredith, ah! Thank you for this!! So wonderful to hear you enjoyed it. I’d love to read your friend’s writing—I hope she gets in touch via Instagram. Stay safe and be well!
Thank you for this post! I know many people reading this may not have attended a Hanukkah celebration before so this is a great introduction with a design angle.
I commented on one of your recent Christmas posts with a request for representation of designs ideas for other religious winter holidays or non-religious seasonal decor so I’m excited that you already had this in the works.
Also, a follow up: as many people know Hanukkah is not actually a major holiday in the Jewish calendar. It’s been popularized and commercialized because it often falls around the time of Christmas. I would love to see Rebekah return to post about Passover or other major Jewish holidays that also align with decorating the home. I’d love to find a more stylish Seder plate or other Judaica that I could keep up year round.
We also love the tradition of having a Seder meal so I echo Danielle’s request.
That’s the plan:)
Oopsie! The “By: ” at the start doesn’t have a name…. Rebekah Lowin needs to be added next to the date.
Rebekah, what a lovely post! Judaism is a minor religion in Australia for the most part, and I learned quite a bit from your post. Although I already had a basic understanding of Hanukkah.
I have objects from many different religions in my home, including a menorah and now I’m wondering if perhaps, I shouldn’t??!??
I bought it because I’m the 7th child, ut has seven candlestick holders and it is beautiful.
I also have an entry Hindu Ganesha (remover of obstacles), a Buddha, a Shiva (gift from an Indian friend), a Nepalese bugle (for scaring away evil spirits), several Christian items, and some Danish folklore items (e.g. 1920s hand painted tile of Nisse-protector of children/household)….
I’m starting to wonder if I’m misappropriating these items, even though I am aware of and acknowledge and celebrate their symbolism/s?
Thoughts anyone??? (Please say your thoughts in a kind way)
Appropriation is a whole debate that I don’t really want to get into, but just popping in to say that a menorah has 9 candle holders (one for each of the 8 nights of the miracle, plus the shamus which is the raised candle used for lighting the others), so if your candle holder has 7 candles it’s not a menorah 🙂
Phew! I’m relieved in a way. I really don’t want to be doing the ‘wrong’ thing.
Thank you for correcting my misunderstanding – it was sold as a menorah.
I bought it at an OXFAM shop.
Ok, I’m being super pedantic here, but 7 candles *is* a menorah, just not a chanukiah (or Chanukah menorah), which is a specific type of menorah (which just means a branched candelabra).
Anyway, Chag Sameach to everyone! Glad to see this beautiful post!
I was raised culturally-Christian (ie we did trees and presents and Easter eggs but not believing-in-God) and am now a member of the local Zen community, so I can’t speak for other religions, but I find interior design’s appropriation of Zen super exasperating. A statue of the Buddha is not decor, and even Japanese minimalism is not Zen. My temple can literally trace its lineage of teachers back to its 11th century founder, and zen-as-decor erases a very rich and meaningful 2500 years of Buddhist history.
It sounds like your heart is definitely in the right place and it isn’t about decor for you, which is great, but if you knew so little about Judaism that you learned something from this post, maybe you need to learn some more? Based on recent conversations, I suspect my Jewish friends would prefer you have a stronger reason to have a Menorah… Having a list of objects from different religions kind of sounds like you’re just collecting them (even if that’s not your intention).
Your past posts always come off as thoughtful, so maybe this is an opportunity to do some deeper learning about other cultures <3
Thank you. 🙂
I’ve attended many a talk in a FPMT gompa, so I’m reason5informed regarding my buddha and also gave some fragments of the Nepalese stupa that was ruined, in a special bag, under my Buddha.
I treat it very respectfully.
I don’t “collect” items for display at all.
Besides the menorah, each item is connected with someone I know who is a practising member of that faith/path and make dure the items are in the vorrect place and orientation in and around my home.
When I was a consultant, I wrote a package of respurces for Harmony Day for the Churches’ Commission on Education and each of the top 5 Australian religionswas covered… so I learned a little about each one, major celebrations, etc.
I always liketo learn more and see all major faiths as having similar, core ‘goodness’ that we can all learn from.
The fragments were given to me by a Buddhist Nun.
Speaking as an athiest with no background in any of this, I feel that as long as you display items with respect it’s okay! If you buy a Buddah because it’s adorable, maybe not ideal. If you buy a Buddah because you respect the religion and culture it represents, I think that’s absolutely okay.
Thank you! I don’t know why that glitch happened. All fixed!
Hi Rusty! Jewish girl here. Seconding the poster who pointed out that 7 candles is a menorah, not a Hannukiah – long story short, yup, you’ve got yourself a Jewish artifact. Speaking for just myself, I think as long as you’re aware that it’s an item that holds a lot of deep, poignant meaning for an oft-persecuted religious group, and treat it respectfully (in whatever way that means for you), you should go ahead and enjoy it. They’re meant to be displayed!
I also just appreciate you asking the question and thinking about it. Means a lot. Happy (almost) Hannukah 🙂
Hi Ari, thanks. 🙂
I keep it on my mantel and chose 7 special candles for it. I rarely light them and when I do, it’s usually for a person or people who are suffering in a significant way.
Because it’s a menorah, it makes me mindful of the suffering Jews have gone through. x
Interestingly, my last night is Jewish!
Go figure! Way back from thedays when Prussia existed.
N a m e
Thank you so much for doing a Hanukkah post this year. I love the round up of modern menorahs and want to add Jonathan Adler to the list – he has some playful but beautiful menorahs like an elephant and a dachshund that are perfect for both adults that love pottery and a more modern take and children learning the traditions of the holiday.
Love that, Courtney!! I think I’ve seen some of those designs and they’re beautiful. Will have to include for next year. 🙂
The first post I’ve seen about chanukah. Thank you! And thank you for not putting blue and silver CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTS in a decorative bowl and calling it chanukah decor, as some glossy mags do. I’m loving your wordplay on the stamped cookies and the pies on your blog. Pie-aynu. Love. Great post. Ehd always stands out above the rest.
When Jess said ‘I finally found our amazing Chanukah contributor’! We were VERY excited. It’s something we’ve always wanted to post about and of course inspire decorating ideas, but felt weird not being Jewish, ourselves, obviously. YAY for Rebekah in every way. I, too, loved this post and writing (and I felt like i learned a lot). Now everyone go follow Rebekah!!
So much more touching than another “look at these cute Christmas things you can buy!” post. Thank you <3
My family isn’t Jewish, but I grew up eating latkes with sour cream and apple sauce! Delicious. I really appreciated this post even though I don’t celebrate Hanukkah. Thank you for including diverse voices and background, EHD!
Rebekah, what a beautiful post! EHD, please bring R back for other drop in posts.
You just landed smack in the heart of the why of all of our traditions (I’m a non practicing catholic who loves Jesus, goddesses and magic so ya know, a mixed bag). But the sacred ritual of the traditions cannot be refuted and truly does provide light for me in seemingly endless darkness.
Happy Hanukkah to you and your family and any fellow readers celebrating soon!
This Jewish reader thank you for the fun post!
I’m not Jewish but I loved this post! Thank you for sharing lots of joyful ideas! And Happy Hanukkah!
Beautiful and well-written post. Love seeing diversity during the holiday season. Keep it up!
Thanks Emily & team for this post. I appreciate your well-rounded approach to inclusivity. While I’m no longer a practicing Jew, I was raised in the religion and it was always just so disappointing to be left out of the festivities this month. The “Hanukkah end cap” that appears at grocery stores every December is just not enough. I’ve never seen such beautiful decor for the holiday.
Rebekah, thank you for your lovely thoughts on the importance of bringing light to this moment in time.
Yay hurrah and chag sameach! I’ve been following Emily and Rebekah for a while, and I’m so happy to see a meeting of the creative and festive minds! I grew up celebrating Hanukkah with very few gifts but activities every night. I have some fun ideas up on my blog and Insta, and will be adding more of Rebekah’s ideas to my holiday practice too!
Thanks so much, Yael!! Love connecting with you on IG and here! 🙂
Thank you for this post. It’s so hard to find modern ways of decorating for Hanukkah. Loved this!
A lovely and interesting post, thank you for posting this!
So fun to see a post about Hanukkah amidst all the focus on Christmas! Thank you Rebekah and EHD team!
Thank you for showcasing Hanukkah and more simply, different ways to celebrate this season. Great to see you elevating other celebration traditions with great style and thoughtfulness. Keep it up please!
This is so exciting! Now I’m hoping that you’ll bring someone in for the Lunar New Year in February. I personally have special decor and specific dinnerware that I bring out.
Also, I just attended a Zoom introduction to Diwali, the Festival of Lights, which I learned is celebrated by 1 billion people! That would be a terrific post for Nov. 2021.
That is our plan!
If I can help with the Diwali post, in anyway let me know!
Love this post!!
What a lovely post! So exciting to have Hanukkah included in this way, as it’s often overlooked. Excited to follow Rebekah now on IG !
Great post, Rebekah. I’m so happy to have a Hanukkah post included on the EHD blog.
This was so beautiful! What a delight to hear Rebekah’s voice. I’m not Jewish but spent many years in Boca Raton which is predominantly Jewish and it makes me remember my time there with friends, observing holiday traditions that weren’t my own but still somehow, not that far away from what we all want during holidays!
Arlyn! Hi! Miss you! and agree<3
I love this post- thank you!!
Hi. Thanx so much! I was never so excited for a post like this one. Looking forward to incorperate some of the Hannukah ideas next week! Love from a longtimejewish follower in Zurich, Switzerland.
Love that you included A Hannukah post and Rebekah’s Instagram and Blog have been my biggest inspirations since I found her! Love her!!
Aw!! So nice to hear that, Skylar! Thanks for commenting. 🙂 Happy (almost) Hanukkah!
I can’t tell you how much this post means to me. First of all thank you for including Hanukah and second for featuring Rebekah Lowin. I’m a huge fan!
Ah!! Thanks so much, Shoshana. Can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support. <3
Thank you very much for including this lovely post on Hanukah!
EHD team, thank you so much for this Hanukkah feature and for introducing those of us new to Rebekah. I’m now following her on Instagram and look forward to incorporating her ideas into my home.
The post linked in Insta stories stopped me in my tracks and I was pleasantly caught off guard to have a break from all of the Christmas content which can be so prevalent this time of year.
Being a minority, and recently living in Australia where Jews are an even smaller minority, this time of year can be challenging when it comes to maintaining traditions (and finding cute holiday decor/ideas!)
Thank you for this bright light and I look forward to future posts from Rebekah.
So happy to have you following along on IG now, Deborah! I’m really glad the post spoke to you. Sending love and happy almost Hanukkah!
I loved this! Thanks for including Chanukah traditions and celebrations on your blog!
I think I’ve commented in the past asking for a Chanukah post so this was so wonderful! And while I agree it’s a minor holiday, when you have three little kids, particularly during a pandemic, it’s nice to fully embrace holiday decor even for the minor holidays! I love some of these ideas and ordered a few Etsy items to round out what I already have.
I’d really love a logistics focused post on putting up holiday decor – how do you fasten so much to walls, windowsills, etc. without doing major damage to the walls?! This could be very useful for renters and owners alike! No one enjoys that moment when the 3M sticky pulls some paint off the wall with it . . .