Today, we are going to make a Hanukkah cracker by converting the standard goyishy Chirstmas cracker into a Jewishy one that is more appropriate for Hanukkah. You can buy non-holiday specific crackers at stores like Bed Bath and Beyond and Joann, but my favorite place to buy them is at a discounter like Marshalls or Tuesday Morning, if you have one of those near you. At a discounter, you can get at least 50% off which makes this craft pretty economical. You can get about a dozen for $6-10. The important thing when choosing a cracker is to find one that matches your holiday or table decor, and without any overt Christmas iconography like trees, Santa, or reindeer.
What you will need:
- Pre-made crackers
- Labels – download mine here (PDF) or your make your own
- Adhesive or tape
- Hanukkah gelt
FIrst, you want to insert a piece of gelt into the cracker. This is so there is something distinctly Jewish inside the cracker. To do this, find the seam in the middle of the cracker between the ties, and carefully slot in the gelt. The smaller the piece, the easier it goes in.
Then, make your labels by either printing out my template or making your own. You can use an adhesive or glue to adhere them to the middle of the cracker or use a matching washi tape to surround the outside.
Boom…your done! How easy was that conversion? Welcome to the tribe, cracker!
I like to place mine in a bowl as the centerpiece for my sit-down dinner. I have one for each person and at the beginning of dinner, each person grabs one end of a cracker and hands the other end to the person next to them. This way, everyone is connected via these crackers. At the count of “go”, everyone pulls and the crackers should open with a pop of the fire cracker inside. Out comes the tchotchkes, the gelt, and people are entertained for a few moments (particularly the kids) before dinner begins!
That is the tradition in our house, but let’s take a moment to talk about symbolism because a lot of folks like to have some rationale why this may be appropriate. You can think of your own symbolism but ours goes kind of like this…why do we help each other open the cracker instead of just opening our own? Because only by sticking together did Jews win conflicts like the Maccabee revolt. Why the bang? To awaken us to the miracle…or perhaps the clash of the swords! The paper hat? You can go with Judas Maccabbee the leader of the revolt or even the crown of the God Zeus, which defiled the temple, and so on and so on. If the symbolism is important to you, my advice is to open up one of the crackers beforehand and take a look at the items so you are ready for teachable moments.