Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday that celebrates the historical victory of ancient Judean soldiers against the Greek armies. It is a holiday which is associated with gift-giving, family gatherings, and feasting. The most widely recognized aspect of Hanukkah is its connection to Christmas, as the two holidays sometimes occur close together. So why exactly is Hanukkah near Christmas?
Hanukkah and Christmas are both celebrated near the winter solstice, the longest night of the year. To Jews, the solstice symbolizes the power of light and is linked to the story of Hanukkah. As the miracle of Hanukkah is about the oil lasting for eight days, the connection to the winter solstice is also quite strong. Jews celebrate the successful rededication of the temple via the holiday of Hanukkah, while Christians celebrate the nativity of Jesus via Christmas and both festivals occur close to the winter solstice.
Table of Contents
The History of Hanukkah
Hanukkah is an eight-day long Jewish festival that commemorates the rededication of the holy temple in Jerusalem in the 2nd century BCE. According to Jewish tradition, the ancient Temple in Jerusalem was seized and defiled by the conquering Seleucid King Antiochus IV and the Maccabean revolt was launched by a group of Jews led by the rebel Judah Maccabee. After a brutal war, the Jewish people were able to reclaim the Temple and celebrate their victory by lighting the eight-branch Menorah.
Oil Lasts For Eight Days
According to the story, when the Maccabees re-dedicated the Temple in 164 BCE, they found only a single container of untainted olive oil that had not been used by the Greeks. Miraculously that small container of oil burned in the Temple’s Menorah for eight days, allowing for a full rededication of the Temple. Jews celebrate the rededication of the Temple and the miracle of the oil lasting eight days with the festival of Hanukkah.
How Hanukkah Connects to Christmas
Hanukkah usually falls fairly soon after the winter solstice – the longest night of the year, which is celebrated by many as the “start” of the winter season. This timing makes it easy to understand why there is a connection between Hanukkah and Christmas (the holiday celebrated by Christians around the same time of the year). One of the main reasons the two holidays are connected is because of a common tradition; giving gifts and lighting of lights.
Globally Celebrated Festival
Hanukkah may not be as widely celebrated as Christmas, but it is often seen as an important and globally recognized holiday. Everywhere, Jews, Christians, and people from other faiths can come together and celebrate the miracle of Hanukkah. Plus, the modern rituals around Hanukkah, like gift-giving and it being a ”festival of lights,” make it a widely known and celebrated holiday.
In conclusion, Hanukkah and Christmas may occur close together in terms of the calendar, but the two holidays actually have different origins and meanings. Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday that celebrates the victory of the Maccabees and the miracle of the oil lasting eight days, while Christmas is a Christian holiday which celebrates the nativity of Jesus. However, it is easy to see why the two holidays have become associated; mainly due to the winter solstice and the tradition of sharing gifts and lighting of lights. Representing the miracle of light that is shared amongst all religions, Hanukkah is a globally celebrated festival alongside Christmas.
- What Is Hanukkah And Why Is It Celebrated?
- How Is Hanukkah Different From Christmas?
- What Is The Difference Between Christmas And Hanukkah?
- What Is The Difference Between Christmas Hanukkah And Kwanzaa?
- Why Is Hanukkah In December?
- Why Is Hanukkah 8 Nights?
- What Is One Similarity Of Hanukkah And Christmas?
- Why Is Hanukkah Celebrated For 8 Days?
- Why Is Hanukkah Celebrated In December?
- What Is The Difference Between Hanukkah And Christmas?
- Why Is Hanukkah 9 Days?
- Why Is Hanukkah Also Called The Festival Of Lights?
- How Is Hanukkah And Christmas Alike?
- Why Is Hanukkah 8 Days?
- Why Is Hanukkah Blue?
Last update 2023-11-27. Price and product availability may change.