Marco Polo’s 24 Holiday traditions from around the world – Day 12: Hanukkah in New York

It’s Day 12 of our Advent Calendar and it’s also December 12th, the first night of Hanukkah. We are headed to New York, to find out how the big Apple celebrates the Festival of Lights. Did you miss yesterday’s post? Check it out here!

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So far most of our Holiday traditions have revolved around Christmas, but it would be remiss of us to ignore the other big celebration of the Holiday season, Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights. From the evening of December 12th, until the evening of December 20th, Jewish people around the world get together with their families and friends to light the candles of the hanukkiah, the Hanukkah menorah. New York has a large Jewish community, and among all the pre-Christmas parties, there are also lavish Hanukkah celebrations to be found.

On the Upper East Side, on the 59th Street and Fifth Avenue, the world’s largest Hanukkah menorah is lit every evening of the Hanukkah, around 5:30 PM (see image above, from last year). In other parts of New York there are also large public Hanukkah menorah lighting ceremonies, though the one in Brooklyn is known as ‘the Largest’ (not to be confused with the world’s largest on Upper East Side). ‘The Largest Hanukkah’ menorah lighting ceremony also hosts a free concert on the first night of Hanukkah and there are also hot latkes and presents for children.

Even if you are not Jewish, it is the perfect time to learn more about the Jewish traditions, as many museums in New York, such as the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, have special exhibits on the topic. At the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, children – and parents – can learn all about the dreidel.

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