After 30 years of celebrating Christmas year after year, my family and I discovered something incredible. My grandfather was right all along. We’re Jewish! (I guess he wasn’t Meshuggeneh.) Thanks to all the new ways to learn about ones heritage and our genetic past, I learned that I am part jewish! (also somehow part Irish Spaniard from Cuba. But that’s a different post for a different time!)
I have always loved jewish people. I grew up in a predominantly jewish neighborhood. There were 5 temples/synagogues within miles of my house. I guess I always felt connected to the culture and now I truly understand why. This year, in honor of my heritage I am learning about the festival of Hanukkah!
What is Hanukkah?
Hanukkah (for those of us just understanding this holiday) is the annual Jewish festival celebrated on eight consecutive days beginning on the 25th day of Kislev, the third month in the Jewish calendar. It is also known as the festival of lights. Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem by Judah Maccabee in 165 BC after the Temple had been profaned by Antiochus IV Epiphanes, king of Syria and overload of Palestine.
After having recovered Jerusalem and the Temple, Judah ordered the Temple to be cleansed, a new altar to be built in place of the polluted one, and new holey vessels to be made. According to the Talmud, oil was needed to keep the menorah in the Temple burning. There was only enough oil to burn for one day, yet miraculously it burned for eight days, the time needed to prepare a fresh supply of oil for the menorah. The eight-day festival of Hanukkah was declared to commemorate this miracle.
I love celebrating ANY holiday. Where else should you celebrate the holidays than inside Disney World! Shlep your way to Florida or California this year to discover all the wonderful ways that Disney choses to honor this sacred Holiday! Plus, it’s Disney, it’s going to be tons of fun and lots of sunshine! Oy vey, bring your sunscreen!
Celebrating Hanukkah in Disney
Disney loves to honor and celebrate all holidays, and Hanukkah is no different. There are reminders of Hanukkah all throughout the Disney parks and resorts. If you are staying in a resort, I suggest that you ask the concierge for an update on Hanukkah happenings. Things change quickly with the holidays year to year. Many things are added to the line ups and it doesn’t hurt to ask! If you find out about something I don’t share in this post, please share it in the comments! I’d love to know about it.
Hanukkah in the Disney Parks
All throughout the parks you will see nods to the Jewish holiday. There is a menorah at Disneyland in a Main Street window. It is correctly lit each night during Hannukah. You can find it on the west side of the street just between the Crystal Arcade and New Century Jewelry.
There is also a beautiful storytelling show in the Epcot park of Disney World. Inside the United states World Showcase there is a “Holiday Storyteller”. You can find it by the American Adventure Rotunda. Below is a portion of this performance. Watch and see how she explains the Festival of Lights!
Inside of the Epcot park, there is also an area in the America Showcase with performers called “The Voices of Liberty” or the “Dickens Carolers”. I’ve heard them referred to by both names. Maybe during the holidays they are called carolers? Someone enlighten me! Anyway, they put on a lovely open air concert with all sorts of holidays songs. They sing a beautiful Hanukkah Medley that includes the dreidel song and many more favorites. Watch below to hear the Hanukkah song.
*Fun fact: Most traditional Christmas carols that we sing were actually written by Jewish song writers!
Hanukkah in Disney Springs
Disney does a great job at being inclusive of holidays and cultures. This is even true at the huge Disney Springs Mall (formerly known as Downtown Disney). 2018 Holiday celebrations at Disney Springs will include a variety of holiday entertainment, specialty foods and festive decor. At the Waterside Stage in Marketplace, they will feature special Hanukkah performances. There will be songs and stories that will be performed on the stage. There are special performances celebrating Hanukkah as well as a holiday-themed DJ dance party and a nightly tree lighting ceremony.
There is so much to see and do in Disney springs. Don’t miss out on my “10 Free Things to Do in Disney Springs” article!
For a full list of Disney Restaurants that feature Kosher Dishes/Menu’s. Please click HERE.
Fun Hanukkah Disney themed Merchandise
Hanukkah merchandise can also be found throughout the parks and property stores. Here is a LINK to the Disney Parks Blog. This article will show you the new dreidels, pins and housewares that celebrate the Festival of Lights with a little hint of Mickey magic! Go check it out!
If you want to buy a few things ahead of time, check out some of the fun Disney + Hanukkah themed items that are featured on Amazon.
Please don’t forget to browse my “Eating Kosher in Disney” post.
One of the most popular snacks in the park is Cert. Kosher!
So, friends, I encourage you to get your “tuches” to the Disney Parks this holiday season!
Whatever you decide to do, please remember to be happy and thankful that you’re here to enjoy another Holiday season.