Chanukah, the “Festival of Lights,” commemorates the victory of the Maccabees against the Sellucid Greeks. It also recognizes the miracle of the oil that lasted eight nights during the re-sanctification of the Temple in Jerusalem. Remembering this miracle, a menorah is lit for eight nights with one candle added each night until all eight (plus the “helper” Shamash candle) glow brightly, and foods typically cooked in oil are enjoyed.
This year’s celebration lasts from December 18-26, overlapping with Christmas, and is filled with lights, delicious foods, and family-friendly events. If you’ve ever wondered what a hanukkiah (menorah) was or why everyone seems to be eating potato pancakes (latkes), chocolate coins (gelt) and jelly doughnuts (sufganiyot) during these eight days, here’s your chance to join in the festivities and experience the holiday yourself.
Boston’s Chanukah Celebrations
Copley Square Menorah Lighting
On the first day of Chanukah, Sunday, December 18, at 4 p.m., the annual Copley Square Menorah lighting welcomes the holiday with an event hosted by Boston dignitaries, community leaders and the Boston community. The menorah is the tallest in New England and will be lit, accompanied by music from the Berklee Music Ensemble and The Solomon Schechter School Choir. Nightly lightings continue through the end of the holiday. Kids, take note; the Fire Truck Chocolate Gelt Drop is something you don’t want to miss. No RSVP is required.
Menorah Lighting at the Seaport
Join Chabad of Downtown Boston for their annual Hanukkah Celebration and Menorah lighting ceremony in the Seaport District on Thursday, December 22. A city favorite, the event features a nine-foot-tall menorah, live music, outdoor curling, Chanukah treats including Chanukah gelt and sufganiyot, swag giveaways and more at the Seaport Common. RSVP online.
Museum of Fine Arts
Come together on December 15 from 5 p.m.-10 p.m. for an evening of art, music, and activities in celebration of Hanukkah at the Museum of Fine Arts. Immerse yourself in history with a tour of Judaica at the MFA, catch performances by musicians from around the world, and view a one-of-a-kind menorah artwork created by a local artist before participating in a community candle lighting.
Chanukah Run-A-Latke 5K and Klezmer Concert
The entire family is invited on December 18 to participate in the Chanukah Run-A-Latke 5K and Klezmer concert in Swampscott. The shoreline route takes participants on a 5K loop that’s walker-friendly and stroller-friendly as well. After, enjoy latkes and klezmer dancing at the finish line.
Brookline’s beloved deli, Zaftigs Delicatessen lives up to its name with a “pleasingly plump” Chanukah menu of traditional holiday dishes. Latke lovers, make your reservations now: Zaftigs’ “Loaded Latkes” are a meal by themselves with two latkes topped with a variety of choices like smoked salmon, chili and black beans. And, of course, homemade apple sauce and sour cream are available for the purists. For something heartier, you can order a bowl of Zaftigs’ homemade matzoh ball soup or the deli’s signature brisket dinner. If you want to push the Chanukah envelope a bit, try Zaftigs Latke Piccata, lemon-garlic chicken breast atop a latke. A second location in Natick offers a similar menu.
Inn at Hasting Park
Trisha Pérez Kennealy, owner and culinary educator at Lexington’s Inn at Hastings Park, invites all to a very ethnic Chanukah celebration. Infusing her Puerto Rican and Jewish backgrounds into the holiday menu, Pérez Kennedy is hosting Hanukkah dinner on three evenings, December 21–23. Available as a three-course prix fixe meal or ordered à la carte, guests can enjoy some of Trisha’s favorite Hanukkah dishes such as latkes with quince sauce with sour crème fraîche, brisket with caramelized cipollini onions, roasted carrots and fried Brussels sprouts (or arctic char for non-meat eaters); and upside down noodle kugel with apples and raisins.