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Chanukkah in Denver: Family Events, Traditions and Recipes

Chanukkah in Denver

Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish holiday that celebrates religious freedom. This year Hanukah begins on the evening of  December 18 and ends on December 26, 222. Hanukkah is celebrated in the wintertime, near or around Christmas. Though the proximate occurrence of the two holidays is coincidental, it is interesting in that the story of Hanukkah raises questions about how a religious or ethnic community maintains its identity in relation to a broader culture.

Scroll down for the story of Chanukkah, recipes and traditions!

Hanukkah Events in Denver 2022

Chanukah Concert

When: Dec 11, 10:30 a.m.
Where: Boulder JCC (Boulder Jewish Community Center),  6007 Oreg Ave, Boulder, CO
Join in the fun at Levin Hall for an interactive musical Chanukah celebration with Jeff and Paige! This annual event will get your family excited for the Festival of Lights with elaborate costumes.

Har HaShem’s Annual Chanukah Bazaar

When: Dec. 11, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. 
Where: Congregation Har Hashem, 3950 Baseline Rd, Boulder, CO
Chanukah is our Festival of Lights! And we have what you need for your celebrations! You can get your candles, gelt, Chanukah Menorahs, Decorations, and more.

Chanukah on Ice

When: December 18, 2022, 4-6 p.m.
Where: Big Bear Ice Arena, 8580 East Lowry Boulevard, Denver, CO 80230
Kick off the festival of lights on ice with family & friends at the annual Chanukah on Ice. An evening of music & invigorating skating, dinner, glow-in-the-dark grand Menorah lighting, power rangers and glow fun.

Chanukah Celebration

When: December 18, 2022
Where: Cherry Creek North

Celebrate the first night of Chanukah with Chabad of Cherry Creek. Families and guests of all ages will enjoy what is truly a festival of lights with face painting, fire juggling, festive treats, and crafts.

Chanukah Celebration at the Orchard Town Center

When: December 18, 2022, 5:30-6:30 p.m.
Where: The Orchard Town Center,  14697 Delaware St, Westminster, CO
Come and celebrate Chanukah with The Orchard’s Grand Menorah Lighting Celebration. Enjoy live music, latkahs, donuts, hot beverages and a variety of performances. Hosted by The Chabad of NW Metro Denver in loving memory of Jessica Ridgeway.

Latkes and Lights Hanukkah Celebration and Latke Competition 

When: December 18 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

The JCC Denver and Jewish Explorers are excited to welcome you to our first annual Latkes and Lights Hanukkah celebration. This family and community event will feature themed games, a photo booth, arts and crafts, and more. Does your family make the best latkes in Denver? Showcase them at Latkes and Lights by joining the latke-making contest. The community and a panel of judges will enjoy your latkes and then crown category winners with a Golden Latke Trophy! Tickets are available on a sliding scale from $3-$20.

Community Chanukah Celebration

When: December 19, 12:30-2:30 p.m.
Where: 2450 S Wabash St, Denver, CO
Celebrate the first night by Chanukah by unveiling and lighting the world’s largest menorah.

Olde Town Arvada Menorah Lighting

When: December 22, 5;30-6:30 p.m.

Where: 7525 W 57th Ave, Arvada, CO
Enjoy the holiday of Chanukah with a fun family-themed celebration. Chanukah Music, Comedy Circus Performance, Chanukah Goodie Bags, Latkahs, Donuts & Chocolate coins, Dreidel Mascot. Free event and open to all.

The story

In 168 B.C.E., the Jewish holy temple in Jerusalem was seized by Syrian-Greek soldiers and dedicated to the worship of Zeus. Then, the Syrian-Greek emperor Antiochus made the observance of Judaism an offense that was punishable by death. He banned circumcision and Sabbath observance and he also ordered all the Jews to worship Greek gods. A group of Jewish rebels called the Maccabees revolted against Antiochus and regained control of the Temple. In order to rededicate it to the singular God of Judaism, they had to light the temple’s Menorah or seven-branched sacred candelabra. To their dismay, the Maccabee soldiers only found one day’s worth of oil remaining in the Temple. Nonetheless, they lit the menorah, and a miracle happened. The small portion of oil burned for the full eight days. Hanukkah celebrates this miracle and is thus also called The Festival of Lights.


Lighting the Menorah

jewishA menorah has nine candleholders, eight for the eight nights of Hanukkah plus one for the shamash or helper candle. On the first night of Chanukah, use the shamash to light one candle. One the second night, light two candles, and continue for eight nights, adding another candle each night.

After lighting the candles say the following blessings:

1. Blessed are You, Lord our G-d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to kindle the Chanukah light.
2. Blessed are You, Lord our G-d, King of the universe, who performed miracles for our forefathers in those days, at this time.
3. (First night only) Blessed are You, Lord our G-d, King of the universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this occasion.

Spinning the dreidel

jewish1A dreidel is a four-sided spinning top. Each side of the dreidel bears a letter of the Hebrew alphabet: Nun, Gimel, Heh and Shin. Together, these letters form the acronym for Nes Gadol Hayah Sham, “a great miracle happened there.”

Rules of the game: Each player begins with an equal number of game pieces (usually 10–15). The game pieces can be any small object, such as chocolate kisses or pennies. Each player spins the dreidel once during his/her turn. Depending on which side is facing up when the dreidel stops spinning, the player gives or takes game pieces from the pot:

-Nun = Do nothing.
-Gimel = Take everything.
-Hay = Take half.
-Shin = Put a game piece in the pot.

Eating Fried Foods

It is customary to eat foods that are fried in oil on Chanukah to recall the miracle of the Temple oil that lasted for eight days. Donuts are a popular Hanukkah treat, as is the commonly known and loved potato latke.

An easy latke recipe:

2 large eggs
2 lbs (1 kg) potatoes
oil for frying


Peel and grate the potatoes. Put them straight into cold water, then drain and squeeze them as dry as you can by pressing them with your hands in a colander. This is to remove the starchy liquid, which could make the latkes soggy.
Beat the eggs lightly with salt, add to the potatoes, and stir well. Fill the bottom of a frying pan with oil and heat. Take a large spoonful of the mixture and drop into the hot oil. Flatten a little, and lower the heat so that the latkes cook through evenly. When one side is brown, turn over and brown the other.

Lift out and serve very hot, with applesauce or sugar.

Happy Hanukkah!

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Mile High Mamas
Author: Mile High Mamas

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