Today a special Menorah holding nine candles is the centerpiece of the celebration. One candle is lit on the first night and one additional candle is lit each night with a total of eight being lit on the final night. The ninth candle is used to light the other candles and is called the “shamash” or “servant” candle.
Customs of Hanukkah include eating foods fried in oil like latkes (potato pancakes) and Sufganiyah (jelly filled doughnuts). Playing a game using a four- sided top is another custom for children. Each child has a pile of coins, nuts, candies or some other object to play with. The top is spun and depending on which side is face up, the player either puts in one object, wins an object or nothing happens.
For more information read: “The Hanukkah Family Treasury” by Steven Zorn and Rabbi Joui Hessel; “Eight days of Hanukkah : a holiday step book” by Harriet Ziefert; or “ A Hanukkah holiday cookbook” by Emily Raabe. There are many other books to check out from the library!!
For internet sources go to http://www.holidays.net/chanukah/, http://www.holidays.net/chanukah/ or http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/holiday7.html.