Christmas isn’t the only important holiday celebrated across Boston in November and December. Feted across the city are the arrivals of both Diwali and Hanukkah as well. Each of these holidays is their respective group’s festival of lights, so you know any of the events will shine brightly! Below we share where you can go to enjoy the celebrations of both of these festivals of light!
DIWALI: THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS
For those that might be unfamiliar, Diwali (also known as Divali) is the Hindu Festival of Lights.
Also celebrated by other religions such as Buddhists, Sikhs, and Jains, as well as culturally, this holiday is “observed every year in early autumn after the conclusion of the summer harvest and coincides with the new moon, known as the amāsvasya – the darkest night of the Hindu lunisolar calendar.”
Various groups in and around Boston share in the joyful nature of this holiday, “celebrating the triumph of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and good over evil.”
Below are some of the exciting events in and around Boston for this day.
WHAT: Diwali: The Festival of Lights
WHO: The Museum of Fine Arts
WHERE: Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), Avenue of the Arts, 465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115
WHEN: Wednesday, Nov. 7th, 5:00 – 10:00 pm
From tours and talks to crafts and dancing groups, the Museum of Fine Arts is hosting its Diwali: The Festival of Lights event on Wednesday, November 7th.
Open to all ages and free to both museum members and non-members, this event offers a little something for everyone to engage with on this day.
With music and dance performances, an open mic showcase, a story hour and book signing, you’ll learn and be entertained at the same time.
You’ll also be able to “[t]our the galleries exploring highlights from the collection of South Asian art, sketch in the galleries, enjoy sweet Diwali treats for purchase at Taste and New American Café, and make art with artist and educator Sunanda Sahay.”
Your tastebuds to your imagination will walk away satisfied after taking part in this special event. You can find out more about what they are offering here.
WHAT: Westwood Diwali Festival
WHO: Westwood Indian American Association
WHERE: Westwood High School, 200 Nahatan St, Westwood, MA 02090
WHEN: Saturday, Nov. 10th, 5:00 – 9:00 pm
For those living a bit south of the city, Westwood will be hosting their own Diwali celebration on November 10th.
The annual Westwood Diwali Festival is open to the community and is meant to share and highlight the “many facets of Indian culture, pageantry, food, fashion, and rituals with the greater Westwood community.”
You’ll learn proper sari draping before watching a traditional diya lighting. Following the lighting, there will be entertainment, dinner, and “dancing, dessert, and chai.”
If you’re interested in checking out this Diwali fete, you can find more information here.
WHAT: Needham Diwali 2018
WHO: Indian Community of Needham
WHERE: St. Johns Damascus, 300 West Street, Dedham, MA 02026
WHEN: Saturday, Nov. 17th, 6:00 – 10:30 pm
The Needham area will be celebrating Diwali a little later than is traditional, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be having a spectacular celebration!
Open to families and kids of all ages, this event by the Indian Community of Needham is meant to be a “fun-filled evening of great friends, dinner and dancing.”
They’ll have a DJ on hand and a cash bar for the grownups, so anyone interested in both delicious food and a great time can buy tickets here.
WHAT: Grand Diwali 2018
WHERE: Sri Radha Bhakti, Hindu Nimbarki Vaisnavas 711 S Franklin St, Holbrook, Massachusetts 02343
WHEN: Saturday, Nov. 10th, 4:30 – 9:00 pm
Starting at 4:30 pm, the Hindu Temple in Holbrook will host dancers, performers, and others in everything from the traditional lighting ceremony to music and singing.
You can RSVP here and learn more about the local temple as well. ‘
WHAT: Diwali Open House
WHO: Ashland is United
WHERE: Ashland Library, 66 Front St, Ashland, Massachusetts 01721
WHEN: Saturday, Nov. 10th, 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
Last but not least, the Ashland is United group, meant to raise awareness and inclusivity in their community, is helping host a Diwali celebration at the Ashland Library.
From 10:30 am to 2 pm, families and friends can take part in everything from arts and crafts, to henna, to music and book readings.
This event is free and open to the public, and you can find out more here.
HANUKKAH: THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS
But Diwali is not the only festival of lights celebrated this time of year. The Jewish tradition of Hanukkah also takes place around this time, starting on Sunday, December 2nd this year and ending the evening of Monday, December 10th.
A quick overview of this holiday began when the “Second Temple in Jerusalem was looted, and services stopped [and subsequently] Judaism was outlawed.”
A revolt took place and succeeded in 165 BCE, where the temple was liberated and rededicated.
“According to the Talmud, unadulterated and undefiled pure olive oil with the seal of the kohen gadol (high priest) was needed for the menorah in the Temple, which was required to burn throughout the night every night.”
“The story goes that one flask was found with only enough oil to burn for one day, yet it burned for eight days, the time needed to prepare a fresh supply of kosher oil for the menorah. An eight-day festival was declared by the Jewish sages to commemorate this miracle.”
“The reason for the Hanukkah lights is not for the ‘lighting of the house within’, but rather for the ‘illumination of the house without,’ so that passersby should see it and be reminded of the holiday’s miracle (i.e., that the sole cruse of pure oil found which held enough oil to burn for one night actually burned for eight nights).”
This is why menorahs are set in the windows or near doors close to the street.
Because of this miracle, Jewish communities around the world come together for this eight-day celebration every year, with the Boston area being no different. A variety of Hanukkah gatherings are taking place in and around the city, and we share them below.
WHAT: 5th Annual Hanukkah: The Festival of Lights
WHO: Jewish Arts Collaborative and the Museum of Fine Arts
WHERE: Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), Avenue of the Arts 465 Huntington Avenue Boston, Massachusetts 02115
WHEN: Wednesday, Dec. 5th, 4:30pm – 10:00pm
Just like for Diwali, the MFA opens its doors to the community and shares for free the joy of Hanukkah.
Art, musical performances, engaging tours, and other family-friendly activities will be on tap for all to enjoy on December 5th, from 4:30 pm – 10:00 pm.
You’ll even have the opportunity to ”[d]ance to Jim Guttmann’s big band, Bessarabian Breakdown (with klezmer dance lessons), enjoy the Voice of the Turtle Duo’s timeless versions of ancient Sephardic folk songs, experience Yiddish-infused opera performances by Anthony Mordechai Zvi Russell and hear stories by local Moth storytelling champion Rabbi Dan Judson” according to their website.
Even better, you can enjoy “art-making throughout the museum, try your hand at drawing in the galleries, join gallery talks and go on a Hanukkah-themed scavenger hunt.”
They encourage families to come early, as they will have both “a PJ Library sing-along, face painting and craft projects starting at 4:30 p.m” as well as getting to create a glow-in-the-dark art installation celebrating Hanukkah.
This fun-filled time culminates with the community candle lighting ceremony with the “one of a kind menorah created by local artists Silvina Mizrahi and Sean Clarke.”
Since tickets for the MFA generally cost $25 and up, getting to see tours and enjoy events here for free is exciting! You can find out more information about this special holiday celebration here.
WHAT: 35th Annual Menorah Lighting on the Boston Common
WHERE: Boston Common 139 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02111
- Sunday, Dec. 2nd, 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm
- Monday, Dec. 3rd, 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm
- Tuesday, Dec. 4th, 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm
- Wednesday, Dec. 5th, 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm
- Thursday, Dec. 6th, 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm
- Friday, Dec. 7, 2:30 pm – 3:00 pm
- Saturday, Dec. 8, 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm
- Sunday, Dec. 9th, 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm
The start of Hanukkah gets underway with the lighting of New England’s tallest menorah at the 35th annual menorah lighting on the Boston Common.
On the first night, the lighting will include a grand ceremony with everything from local officials, to live music, plus warm drinks and even Hanukkah treats for kids!
No RSVP is needed; you can just look for the Brewer Fountain (located next to the Park Street T stop on Tremont Street) and join in the fun.
There will be smaller lighting ceremonies each of the subsequent eight days, and the times are listed above. If you want more information, you can visit here, email Events@ChabadDowntownBoston.org, or call 617-297-7282.
WHAT: Happy Hour on the Hill: Chanukah Edition
WHO: Vilna Shul, Boston’s Center for Jewish Culture
WHERE: AllianceBernstein Wealth Management, 53 State St Boston, MA 02109
WHEN: Monday, Dec. 3rd from 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
The Vilna Shul invites everyone to “Come. Drink. Nosh. Network.” and “[c]elebrate Chanukah with the Vilna’s signature networking event.”
As some quick background, The Vilna Shul was built in 1919 and is the “last remaining immigrant era synagogue in the city of Boston.”
As Boston’s Center for Jewish Culture, “Vilna currently operates as a cultural center and offers a variety of programming, including conversations, films, monthly Shabbat services and more for young adults, young families, senior citizens and everyone in between.”
For this Happy Hour on the Hill: Chanukah Edition event, guests can enjoy latkes, adult beverages, and conversation at AllianceBernstein Wealth Management.
Though the event is open to everyone, they obviously require that attendees be 21 years old and up.
Interested in making connections to help your business or just find that new friend? Then you can head here for more information.
WHAT: Brighten the Lights of Our Chanukah Festival With Dan Nichols
WHO: Temple Israel of Boston Temple Israel of Boston
WHERE: Temple Israel 477 Longwood Avenue Boston, MA 02215
WHEN: Friday, Dec. 7th, 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm, Saturday, Dec. 8th, 6:15 pm – 9:00 pm
Another fantastic free event is happening back to back nights near the end of Hanukkah in Boston.
Brighten the Lights of Our Chanukah Festival with Dan Nichols starts Friday with a Qabbalat Shabbat Chanukah celebration as well as a “candle-lighting and Havdalah ceremony followed by a ‘coffeehouse’ musical program.“
Consider a “singular talent in the world of Jewish music,” Dan Nichols is “one of the most dynamic, influential and beloved Jewish musicians in North America” whose melodies have become woven into the “spiritual and liturgical experience of countless individuals and Jewish communities.”
Not only is this event free, but you’ll be able to enjoy an experience that few get to behold combining Dan’s talents with the celebration of Hanukkah.
Additional details can be found here for anyone wishing to join in this exciting event!
WHO: Temple Beth Elohim
WHAT: Dreidel Dash 5K Run/Walk
WHERE: Temple Beth Elohim 10 Bethel Rd Wellesley, MA 02481
WHEN: Sunday, Dec. 2nd, 9:15 am – 12:00 pm
If you’re the type that prefers to celebrate your holidays by getting outside and perhaps working off some of those large family meals, then
the Dreidel Dash 5K Run/Walk hosted by Temple Beth Elohim in Wellesley will be your perfect match!
As part of the community-wide Hanukkah festival occurring in Wellesley, the race is open to all ages, and all proceeds benefit the TBE Youth Engagement Fund.
Costs depend on the age of the participant, starting at $8 for the Yaldeinu Dash (ages 5 and under) and the Junior Dash (ages 6-10).
For the main Dreidel Dash 5K, it’s $18 for ages 18 and under and $28 for ages 19 and older if you register ahead of time. Registration on race day costs $36.
To register or find out more, you can head to their website here.
WHO: New England Yachad
WHAT: Chanukah Party With Temple Sinai
WHERE: Temple Sinai 1 Community Rd Marblehead, MA 01945
WHEN: Sunday, Dec. 2nd, 9:30 am – 11:30 am
Families with children 15 years old or younger and all abilities are welcome to celebrate Hanukkah at this event hosted by the New England Yachad and Temple Sinai of Marblehead.
A fantastic local artist named Shira Moss will be helping us celebrate by creating a craft project that uses both new and recycled materials.
Plus there will be delicious latkes and jelly donuts to enjoy! This event is $10 per person, and you can register here or reach out to Caryn Schiller with questions at email@example.com or 617-209-6799 ext. 102.
WHO: Young Israel of Brookline
WHAT: Kids Chanukah Party With Young Israel of Brookline
WHERE: Young Israel of Brookline 62 Green St Brookline, MA 02446
WHEN: Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, 2:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Families with kids a little closer to the city can take part in a children’s party hosted by Yachad and Young Israel of Brookline for the first night of Hanukkah.
Everything from “crafts, games, a raffle and a special performance from a magician,” as well as “snacks and sufganiyot (jelly donuts)” will be available.
If you’re a family with kids ages 16 and under, you’ll want to add this to your schedule! It costs $8 per person with a $36 family max, and you can register here or contact Aylat Lifshitz with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
WHO: Central Reform Temple – Boston
WHAT: A Light Through the Ages: A Chanukah Celebration
WHERE: Central Reform Temple of Boston 15 Newbury St Boston, MA 02116
WHEN: Sunday, Dec. 2, 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
If you’re looking for something a little more traditional, you can attend the Central Reform Temple 10th annual presentation of “A Light Through the Ages.” Accompanied by the “famed Zamir Chorale” this presentation is “a celebration of Chanukah in story, song, and light.”
Open to all faiths, this event is a way for those in Boston and the surrounding area to understand, experience, and enjoy the “inspiration and broader significance of the Festival of Lights.”
This year will be extra special as the Temple is honoring eight distinguished religious leaders from Boston “who will light the candles of the menorah, symbolically spreading the light of their and their congregations’ gifts to the life of our city.”
Open to all and with no admission fee or tickets needed, everyone can learn and celebrate together.
WHO: Temple Shir Tikvah (Winchester)
WHAT: Community Chanukah Potluck & Havdalah
WHERE: Temple Shir Tikvah 34 Vine St Winchester, MA 01890
WHEN: Saturday, Dec. 8, 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm
For those of you living north of the city, you can also get in on the exciting festivities by partaking in the community Chanukah Havdalah potluck in Winchester.
People are asked to bring a dish to share while they enjoy the tastes and tales of this special time. Those who wish to can also bring along their own menorah if they would like.
Following the potluck, the Temple Shir Tikvah will be hosting a family-friendly Havdalah service. The mission of this event is that it will “increase the joy and light this season.”
If this sounds like your type of gathering, you can learn more here.
WHO: Temple Ahavath Achim
WHAT: Glitz, Glik, and Gelt: A Hanukkah Celebration
WHERE: Temple Ahavat Achim 86 Middle St Gloucester, MA 01930
WHEN: Saturday, Dec. 8, 5:45 pm – 8:00 pm * Registration closes on November 30th
A lobster trap menorah is just the start of this Hanukkah event in Gloucester. Starting with the menorah lighting at 5:45, there will also be food and fun to be had throughout the evening.
With “Klezperanto music and dancing” plus a “gelt giveaway raffle drawing, cookie decorating, dreidel games and slivovitz tasting,” everyone in your family will find something to love.
Children under five are admitted free, but registration for everyone else ends on November 30th, so head here to register ASAP!
WHO: New England Yachad
WHAT: Teen and Adult Chanukah Party
WHERE: Congregation Kehillath Israel 384 Harvard St Brookline, MA 02446
WHEN: Saturday, Dec. 8, 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
While most of the events are for kids, this event, hosted by New England Yachad in their new event space is “an epic Chanukah celebration” for those 16 and up.
Attendees are invited to “[b]ring your dancing shoes,” as there will be a DJ on hand providing the music.
With other Hanukkah activities as well as an ice cream bar, teens and young adults can have their own celebration marking this season. If you’d like to attend this event, visit here for more information.
WHO: Vilna Shul, Boston’s Center for Jewish Culture
WHAT: Chanukah in the City presented by PJ Library & Vilna Shul
WHERE: Back Bay Events Center 180 Berkeley St Boston, MA 02116
WHEN: Sunday, Dec. 9th, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Into live music, giveaways, food, and crafts while you celebrate Hanukkah? Then you’ll love getting together with other young families in downtown Boston to enjoy Chanukah in the City!
Unlike the event above, this event is for kids ages infant to 12 years old. Families will love the vast array of craft activities for kids offered by the Vilna Shul, Boston’s Center for Jewish Culture, Chabad of Downtown Boston, Back Bay & Beacon Hill, Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Boston, Epstein Hillel School, The Rashi School, JCDS, Boston’s Jewish Community Day School, and JCC Greater Boston Discovery Club.
Music will be provided by Josh and Jamtones and what Hanukkah event would be complete without latkes? This event promises “latkes galore with a make-your-own latke bar, complete with various toppings, and plenty of snacks for everyone.”
To register or learn more, you can head here.
The holidays in Boston aren’t only about Christmas, and these two festivals of lights prove that there’s more to celebrate throughout the city and beyond!
Let us know in the comments if you’ll be attending one of these fantastic events and be sure to check back next week for our next installment.