Monday, December 22, 2008

Gifts or Gelt

I was discussing this with Jameel last night.

Do you give Presents or Chanukah Gelt?

I'm not actually sure where either tradition began, so if someone can fill me in...

Anyway, growing up we usually got both (plus chocolate coins), but I think the presents had a bigger impact, after all, there was always that element of surprise and trying to figure out where your parents hid the gifts (plus in good years, there were 8 days of presents).

Jameel feels that the whole presents think is too Xmasy, and he only does the Gelt.

My kids are getting presents (toys, books, and puzzles).

And we all eat Latkes!

What do you do?

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד


nmf #7 said...

My family always gave gelt- sometimes special denominations, like silver dollars from my grandfather which I still treasure.
For the halachic sources- here's two very nice sites:

nmf #7 said...

Here's what one of the sites say:
The earliest halachic source for this custom of “Chanukah gelt” is Rabbi Avraham Gombiner (Poland; 1637-1683), in his very first comment on Shulchan Aruch, Hilchos Chanukah, chapter 670!17 The custom probably has to do with the primary explanation of the holiday’s name, Chanukah, discussed earlier: the initiation and dedication (chinuch) of the Beis Hamikdash by the Chashmonaim. In that spirit, it seems, the custom developed in order to emphasize and encourage the initiation (chinuch) of young children, both boys and girls, to dedicate themselves more to the study of Torah and the fulfillment of its commandments. A great way to accomplish this is to reward them, up front and unsolicited, with a monetary gift, which, in and of itself, is also an important lesson in chinuch. Perhaps it is as if to say: “Let us see what you do with the money, and more importantly, let us see what you will do with your life these next crucial few winter months.”

Ye'he Sh'mey Raba Mevorach said...

We do presents, but not every night. My folks did presents. Don't know what my DH's family did (though I expect he'll see this and post). This year (after I bought the presents - from us, from Bubby) I was thinking that next year maybe we'll do gelt.

And chocolate coins of course.

And singing around the piano! That's the most important.

Ye'he Sh'mey Raba Mevorach said...

I mean, singing around the piano is most important after lighting the channukiot. All 7 of the Ye'he Sh'meys.

Oil or candles? We have 3 oil, 1 cheapy candles (for the 4 yr old) 2 slightly better candles (for the under bar/bat mitvah kids) and tea candles, for Abbat, who thinks they are more mehudar.

Anonymous said...

I use the colored paraffin oils, my kids do the little colored candles.

Anonymous said...

We give a little gelt and the chocolate coins. I agree with Jameel that the gift thing was way too exagerated in America because of Xmas, and we were very happy to give it up when making aliyah.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Just a clarification: We havent pulled the plug on gifts in favor of gelt, but we have toned it down alot.

Last year, we just gave out one big family present to all the kids, and they all use it...a pool table.

Anonymous said...

I grew up getting presents, and eventually having misgivings about that. My oldest kid is just old enough to start caring about these things, and I've resolved (b'li neder) to only give presents on Chanukah (if any) that are Torah-related, i.e. furthering chinuch. The kids can get toys on Sukkot, Pesach, and/or their birthdays. ... and, of course, from their grandparents on Chanukah.

Commenter Abbi said...

So far, we've gotten the kids one present to share (a nice young kids version of the game "Guess Who?" which they really like playing together).

Tonight, we made latkes and sang after candlelighting.

Tom. they'll get a present from my parents (they're in America, I'll buy it here) and motzash they'll get a present from my in laws.

Presents make the chag exciting for kids, especially young kids, for whom gelt would just get lost (most presents do to,but at least they can play with it a bit before it gets lost/broken).

Fern @ Life on the Balcony said...

My mother is a compulsive gift giver. So we got gifts. When we were teenagers, we figured out that if you mentioned some really big item that you wanted a few months before Chanukkah or your birthday, our mom would offer to get you the gift for your birthday. Then, because she can't help herself, she would buy you MORE presents on your birthday or for Chanukkah because she "felt bad, not having anything to give you on the actual day."

Anonymous said...

Jameel - a pool table? Nice!

Veev said...

We used to give gifts every night after candle lighting as we had when we were growing up. One year, a few years back, the kids got really grabby and whiny about the presents and weren't even excited about the candle lighting anymore.

We vowed no more presents and the next year asked everybody in our families to refrain from giving to our kids. We were met with complete outrage and made to feel like the worst parents on the planet. We stuck to our guns and don't do gifts at all anymore. The first year, the kids started to play Dreidel after every candle lighting with chocolate coins. And that is our new Minhag.

Huge difference.

BBJ said...

When I was a kid I got chocolate gelt and small gifts--of course, I also made out like a bandit because my father's family celebrates Christmas.

I remember that the cousins and I also got gifts--books, clothes, toys for the little ones--at Pesach, and I like the idea of something at Sukkot as well.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Veev: I knew there was a reason I liked you guys!

(excellent parenting!)

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