The celebration of Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday with a history that goes all the way back to the time of Jesus. Since Jesus was a Jew, it is fair to assume that He had some involvement in the festivities. But what exactly did Jesus do to celebrate Hanukkah?
Hanukkah and Jesus
Hanukkah celebrates the re-dedication of the Temple by the Maccabees in 165 BC after defeating the Greek Syrian oppressors. Jesus grew up in this time period and was likely exposed to the teachings of the Maccabees and the rebellions against foreign oppressors. In fact, Jesus himself engaged in acts of civil disobedience, such as challenging the money-changers in the Temple.
The Feast of Dedication
The Talmud and the Gospels reveal that Jesus celebrated Hanukkah. The Gospels refer to it as the “Feast of Dedication” (John 10:22-23), and several years later, during the time of the Great Sanhedrin, a special festival was established in honor of the original rededication of the Temple. This new celebration, called the Festival of Lights, was to commemorate the miracle of the one-day’s supply of oil that burned in the Temple’s lamps for eight long days.
We can assume that Jesus celebrated Hanukkah in the manner common at the time. This likely included the traditional singing of hymns and prayers, as well as eating special foods. One such dish is called latkes, pancakes made of potatoes, apples, or other ingredients fried in oil to symbolize the miracle. Other Hanukkah treats are sufganiyot, deep-fried doughnuts with jams and jellies in the center to celebrate the events. Jesus likely also lit the Menorah, a branch candelabra, usually consisting of nine candles, including a helper candle called a shamash. In addition to lighting the candles, there were special prayers that were recited at the same time.
Jesus is a figure of great importance to both Christians and Jews alike and understanding how He celebrated Hanukkah furthers our understanding of His teachings and beliefs. It is clear from the text of the Gospels that He observed the holiday with the typical customs and rituals of the time. For Jews today, this makes Jesus’ life and teachings even more special and meaningful. Celebrating Hanukkah with the sort of piety, joy, and conviction that Jesus likely had helps to bring the story to life and to unite people in peace and good will.
Jesus celebrated Hanukkah in a way that revealed His religious piety and devotion. We can imagine Him singing liturgical hymns, lighting the Menorah for eight days and joyfully eating special treats. Knowing Jesus was able to celebrate Hanukkah with such devotion, despite the often difficult circumstances of His life, is a powerful reminder of His spiritual depth and the power of faith over adversity.
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Last update 2023-11-27. Price and product availability may change.