8 Nights of Lights :: Our Hanukkah Traditions

It’s our most favorite time of year, moving on from turkey to latkes, a family favorite! Our family chooses to celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas and enjoys using the weekend after Thanksgiving to start decorating! Hanukkah in New Orleans

Hanukkah takes over our kitchen and dining areas – we get out our menorahs, dreidels, art pieces from over the years, and of course, candles. The collection of menorahs spans from DIY to Pottery Barn Kids to an elegant gold one that has made its way through generations originating in Germany.

The festival of lights celebrates the victory of the Maccabees over the larger Syrian army and the miracle of just a day’s supply of oil lasting for eight days. Each night of Hanukkah, we light the Shamash, also known as the “helper candle” by the kids, and then use that special candle to light the other candles. On the first night, only one candle is lit, and then one is added on each night for the full eight nights. Can you imagine the negotiations – sometimes fighting – that occur between the kids on who gets to hold the special candle that lights the rest? We’ll treasure those moments, though, right?!

After lighting the candles, we watch them burn and open gifts. Helpful tip: place foil under the menorah to collect wax drippage. And yes, eight nights of lights also means eight nights of gifts. For our family, especially since we celebrate Christmas too, each night is about one small gift or maybe even a joint gift. This year on the first night, my kids will be gifted a joint cookie decorating class scheduled for the next day. It can be as simple as that … or as big as you want to go!

We always carve out one of the eight nights to celebrate with other Jewish family friends, and a separate night is reserved for an extended family celebration. My kids look forward to Jewish traditions in New Orleansthis night the most – latkes by Gigi (served with applesauce and sour cream), brisket by Mimi (with all the gravy), endless games of Dreidel where they compete for Gelt (chocolate gold coins), and of course, grandparent gifts! The true labor of love is the latkes – my mom spends about 8 hours in her garage with multiple fryers going to make sure we have enough for everyone plus leftovers! She’s tried to pass down the tradition a few times, but I’ll milk the “I have young kids” excuse as long as I am able to. Plus, hers are divine.

The best thing about Hanukkah for our family? The simplicity of coming together over these small, sweet traditions. Watching my kids shoulder to shoulder stare into the beautiful lights surrounded by family is what makes this holiday so special.

Ready to celebrate Hanukkah in your home? Check out this latke recipe and make it a fun after-school activity this season!

How to Make Latkes At Home


  • 4 bags Simply Potato Shredded Hashbrowns (this will make about 40 latkes using 1/3 cup mixture for each)
  • 2 medium onions
  • 1/2 C flour
  • 1 box Latke mix
  • 4-6 extra large or jumbo eggs how to make latkes
  • 1 T salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3-4 T butter melted
  • Lots of veggie oil for frying!


  1. Add 2 bags of potatoes to a large mixing bowl. Using the Cuisinart, chop 1 bag of potatoes with 1 onion and add this mixture to the large mixing bowl. Repeat with last bag of potatoes and onion.
  2. Start with 4 eggs, beat well and add slowly to the potato mixture until it begins to hold and is not excessively moist.
  3. Get the oil very hot in a frying pan. Using a measuring cup, scoop out 1/3 C of the potato mixture, pack it well and scoop onto a spatula. Squeeze the mixture into a round patty and slide it delicately into the oil. Do not add too many latkes into the oil at once.
  4. As they fully cook and brown around the edges, slide out and drain on paper towels.
  5. Latkes can be ready to serve or you can freeze between sheets of wax paper. If frozen, bake then at 400-425 degrees for 10-15 minutes until hot and not too brown.
  6. Serve with applesauce and sour cream … enjoy!

kid friendly Hanukkah in New Orleans

About Allison Hoffman

Allison Hoffman New OrleansAllison Hoffman is a mom of two in New Orleans, married to her husband of 12 years, Phil, Co-Owner of Fire Flow Studio and Owner of Hoffman Communications. She (with her two Partners) opened Fire Flow in June 2020 to offer an elevated hot yoga experience to the New Orleans community. Infrared heat compliments Vinyasa-style sequencing to reach deep tissue, which increases blood circulation, speeds up metabolic rate, relieves inflammation and alleviates sore muscles. Paired with energizing beats and dim lighting to induce high energy, expect to build, burn and breathe. Visit www.fireflowstudio.com to book your sweat sess!


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