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Last updated: May 7, 2020 • Holidays

The Ultimate Hanukkah Bush

For those of Jewish descent or those who practice Judaism, Hanukkah is one of the most important holidays of the year. Also known as the festival of lights, Hanukkah celebrates the rededication of the temple in Jerusalem during the Maccabean Revolt. 

Today, the fusion of Judeo-Christian traditions in North America has led to the adoption of the Hanukkah bush as a tradition in many Jewish households. The Hanukkah bush provides an opportunity for interfaith families to expose their children to different traditions without diverging too far from their accepted practices. 

Hanukkah bush decorations 

So how can you decorate your Hanukkah bush? Any way you want, of course! Just be sure that if you have a lit menorah, keep it a safe distance from the tree! 

Speaking of menorahs, they make a great decoration for your Hanukkah bush! No, not full-sized ones, of course; I’m talking about miniaturized figurines. Whether they are hand-carved from eucalyptus wood, knitted from yarn or fashioned from brass or copper, these Hanukkah decorations won’t fail to invoke the memory of the awe-inspiring story of the first Hanukkah. 

Another great decoration for your Hanukkah tree is a Star of David for the top. This symbol has long represented the history, identity, and culture of the Jewish people; it’s only fitting that the crown of your Hanukkah tree should be adorned with one! You can take it even further by choosing a Hanukkah decoration star handcrafted by a woodworker in the old market in Jerusalem. If you travel there frequently, remember to pick one up! 

You can add an element of family cooperation to Hanukkah decorating by making your own decorations. For those with young children, perhaps menorah macaroni art or a paper chain of stars of David. For those with older children or teenagers, maybe a more complex craft like a build-and-paint star of David. Just get creative with it and have fun! 

The ultimate Hanukkah bush decoration idea

What would the ultimate Hanukkah bush look like? Well, it can look like anything you want! It could be a 7-foot tall white conifer adorned with strings of warm white and blue lights, with silver, blue and white ornaments. Perhaps you could add to the Hanukkah atmosphere by placing a decorative menorah on a window sill or near the tree. For the finishing touch, you could wrap all the presents in a beautiful Hanukkah gift wrap and add a silver ribbon around them! Once placed under the tree it would look absolutely stunning! However you choose to decorate your Hanukkah bush, you can be sure that it will be a welcome addition to your Hanukkah celebration. 

What is a Hanukkah bush?

The Hanukkah bush is a beloved tradition among North American Jewish households. When Hanukkah season has come, this decorated shrub allows progressive Jewish or interfaith families to share in western holiday celebratory traditions without abandoning or compromising their faith. 

The great thing about the Hanukkah bush is that it allows you to celebrate and appreciate the traditions of different ideological cultures, and give your children an opportunity to learn about different faiths. Additionally, decorating the Hanukkah bush is a great family activity that everyone can participate in!

So what exactly is a Hanukkah bush? Well, a Hanukkah bush is usually a small or medium-sized coniferous bush or tree, similar to a Christmas tree, decorated with ornaments, lights or tinsel. 

The history of the Hanukkah tree

The earliest known mention of the Hanukkah tree is from around the turn of the 20th century. At that time, many European Jewish families were emigrating to the United States, and there was a concerted effort among the Jewish community to assimilate without losing its identity. The celebration of Hanukkah as a major holiday became a major part of that movement. 

Hanukkah is generally a relatively minor holiday in Jewish communities outside North America, but Jewish-American and Jewish Canadian communities began to emphasize it’s observance after arriving in the New World. This newly elevated holiday provided an opportunity to celebrate during the holiday season, without compromising their traditions and beliefs. Over time, the holiday came to include many traditions that mirrored Christian ones, from presents to the Hanukkah bush which we’re discussing today! 

Where to buy a Hanukkah bush

Hanukkah trees and Christmas trees are virtually identical, so it shouldn’t be any trouble finding one. If you are an outdoorsy type, you can go to a tree farm and pick one out, cut it down and take it home. This can be loads of fun for you and your family. From pacing up and down the rows of aromatic pine trees finding one that everyone likes, to cutting it down, wrapping it up and throwing on top of the car, you’re sure to have a good time! 

If you don’t have the inclination or time to cut one yourself, don’t worry; there are other options. Most supermarkets will have Holiday tree stands in their parking lot all season, and you can quickly and easily go pick out one and take it home. If you don’t want a living tree in your home for any reason, there are also synthetic trees available for purchase that will help you escape sap and allergy-related woes that might originate from a living tree. 
This Holiday season, however you decide to decorate your Hanukkah bush, be sure to keep one thing in mind: this holiday is about family. Focus on those who are dear to you. Be grateful for what you have. Give what you can to those in need. That’s what really makes this holiday special!

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