We have a tradition for this holiday of Sukkot called “sukkah hopping”. If I did this as a child, it was probably in a more formal way, with an official invitation to visit someone else’s sukkah. Basically, children visit other sukkot, have something to eat, and move on to the next sukkah. If the children are young, they are accompanied by adults; by age ten, they go with their friends.
Here’s the custom as I would like it to be:
You visit a sukkah of a friend. You wish the person a happy holiday, and sit down and enjoy one of the treats they have placed for guests in their sukkah. You say the bracha (blessing) on that particular treat, make a little conversation with your host, say “thank you”, and move on to the next sukkah.
Here’s what I have seen:
Children wandering around the neighborhood with bags. Bags! Filled with candy. Sounds a bit like another holiday, not a Jewish one, that is coming in a few weeks?
One of my friends said she has a rule that children must eat whatever they take from her sukkah in her sukkah. No bags. I rather liked that rule. She also tells them, “one candy per child.” Another good rule. I told her I think many parents of this generation have a hard time saying “no” to kids. This is not good for the kids.
Another mother I met told me someone she knew once put only vegetables as treats in her sukkah, then the mother heard children whispering outside her sukkah, “oh, don’t even bother going in there.” You can’t win. Who wants to be the one mom without any junk? (I can’t bring myself to buy candy, so I buy popcorn and pretzels, and I try to make extra desserts. My daughter and I made some ice tea using orange herbal tea bags and sugar — you just leave it in the refrigerator for a few hours to chill and absorb the flavor).
I asked my boys if they have ever taken bags with them, and they said, no, they always eat the food in the sukkah. I told them I was glad to hear that, and they should remember to say thank you to each host. My husband told them not to visit the sukkah of someone they don’t know (because it’s rude). I would make an exception to a family brand-new to the community.
Last night when my daughter was trying to fall asleep she complained her stomach hurt. I said, “well, maybe a little too much junk today. Nothing a good night sleep won’t cure.” It turns out she never had any “real” supper, so I gave her a piece of pizza before bed.
If you do sukkah hopping in your area, would love to hear how it functions. And if you don’t celebrate Sukkot, maybe you can relate to the kids and candy situation?