Understanding the meaning of the Chanukah custom of giving chocolate coins to children enriches the tradition. Although the earliest sources of the Chanukah gelt custom are unknown, there are several reasons why coins and Chanukah go together.
Chanukah gelt in part, symbolizes the gift of learning. Linguistically, the word Chanukah is related to the Hebrew word ‘hinnukh’, meaning education. In the 18th century, rabbis would visit villages during Chanukah to promote study of the Torah. After a while, grateful villagers began to offer the rabbis gifts of coins in addition to food, whiskey and honey. More recently, parents have chosen to give teachers bonuses around the time of Chanukah and also reward children at this time for their diligent studies.
Another value represented by Chanukah gelt is Jewish freedom. The descendants of the Maccabees minted coins embossed with temple images to celebrate their autonomy. In the 20th century, the Maccabees’ struggle to reclaim the temple gained greater significance as a desire for a Jewish state grew. Parents would give coins to their children during Chanukah while retelling this important story.
Chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil are a reminder of a rich and significant Jewish culture.
Today, the coin giving tradition has dramatically expanded to accommodate modern society. People give any gift, especially if it’s associated with Hanukkah – like dreidels and menorahs filled with candy and assorted nosh, to kids of all ages.
At Oh! Nuts we help you enrich our tradition of gift and coin giving. We have a large selection of various chocolate coins, childrens gifts, gift platters and more!