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Ideas for a Green Hanukkah

written by: RobinRaven•edited by: Donna Cosmato•updated: 7/6/2011

Celebrating Hanukkah is an unforgettable experience and an important one for friends and family members of the Jewish faith to share together. This year, your holiday can be even more special when you make small changes to make the festivities eco-friendly.

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    Celebrating Hanukkah

    The dates of Hanukkah are set by the Hebrew calendar, but the holiday always falls during the winter. Since the celebrations lasts for eight days, there's ample opportunities for having fun and diving into what this holiday has been traditionally all about.

    Lighting the menorah is the primary ritual of the holiday, according to Jewish law and custom. A different candle is lit on the menorah each night for eight consecutive nights. It's increased by one each night. Since this is such a focal point, it's also a great place to start going green. When opting for candles for the menorah, choose organic soy candles. They're much better for the environment than other kinds. Preparing for the holiday is also a good time to open the conversation to younger kids about different small actions they can take to help while preparing for fun and celebrations as well.

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    Hanukkah Gift Giving

    While gift giving wasn't always a part of a traditional Hanukkah celebration, it's become one in the Western world as younger children bask in the glow and excitement of receiving presents for eight nights in a row. The first seven nights tend to be smaller presents, and the biggest present is saved for the last night of Hanukkah in most families.

    Wrap Hanukkah gifts for children in left-over brown bags from the grocery store, or make your own wrapping paper from recycled materials. While you will want to draw and decorate the bag wrapping, placing a bow on the top. Kids are far more interested in what lies within the wrapping, and you're unlikely to hear a peep of complaint.

    When it comes to sending presents to the kids in your life that live far away, such as nieces or nephews, be mindful there as well. When placing the presents in the package for safe-keeping, don't reach for styrofoam. Use dry pasta or fill from old pillows. Reusable cloths could also be used. A call to the parents before he package is received will relieve any possible confusion over oddly packed packages. Again, the young recipients are more interested in what lies within a present than its packaging.

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    Eating at Hanukkah

    One of the most exciting parts of family celebrations involves the festive dinner. Modify traditional Hanukkah recipes to be vegan. These small choices can ricochet into huge advantages for the planet. The tastes are often even better than the original. Try serving without an explanation, and many people may compliment a little something extra without knowing what's changed.

    Consider substituting soy or almond cheese and milks for the dairy kind; this is perfect when serving soy cheese blintzes. Add tofu to brisket. Enjoy glazed lebkuchen without any animal by-products.