Hanukkah and Christmas, two popular religious holidays, have a few similarities, although they are rooted in vastly different histories and beliefs. Hanukkah, which is observed annually on the 25th day of Kislev, in late November or December, commemorates the rededication of the second Temple of Jerusalem after it was seized and liberated from Syrian-Greek forces around 165 BCE. On the other hand, Christmas, which is celebrated on December 25 annually, celebrates the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, who was born around 4 BCE. The two holidays, although distinct in their origination, share a few similarities.
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Similarities Of Hanukkah and Christmas
Holiday Light Traditions
One of the most noticeable similarities between Hanukkah and Christmas for many people is the holiday lights, candles, and festive decorations. For the 8 nights of Hanukkah, a candelabrum with nine branches, called a menorah, is filled with nine candles, eight normal candles and one central candle, called a shamash. One candle is lit each night, with each candle lighting the candle after it for the whole week. Homes and public spaces are often decorated with blue and white lights as well. Similarly, for Christmas, Christmas lights are often strung around homes and cities to signify the holiday season.
Exchange of Presents
Another common similarity between Hanukkah and Christmas can be seen in the tradition of exchanging gifts to signify appreciation for loved ones. For Hanukkah, people often exchange gifts of chocolate coins called gelt. Many also give small gifts such as watercolor paints, books, and toys. For Christmas, people exchange presents such as toys, confections, and clothing.
The biggest similarity between Hanukkah and Christmas is the custom of bringing families together to honor and celebrate the holiday. For Hanukkah, families gather around the menorah each night to light the candles, sing traditional hymns, and give thanks. On the last night, families often have a traditional feast and exchange gifts. Similarly, for Christmas, families gather on Christmas Eve to share a festive meal and exchange presents or wait until Christmas morning.
Regardless of their religious backgrounds, Hanukkah and Christmas have a few similarities that many people, both Jewish and Christian, are familiar with in terms of holiday light decorations, exchanging presents, and the gathering of family and friends. Even though there are vast differences between the two holidays regarding their history and meaning, the fact that they share a few common characteristics makes these religious celebrations easily relatable and memorable to all.
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Last update 2023-11-27. Price and product availability may change.