Jewish Holiday At Christmas

By | January 19, 2015



The Jewish Holiday At Christmas: Celebrating Through the Ages



Christmastime has been a season of joy for many centuries, but for some Jews, this special time of year brings a little bit of extra pleasure. During this holiday season, Jewish people around the world celebrate Hanukkah. This eight-day observance is the most widely celebrated Jewish holiday, and its message of hope and perseverance is as powerful today as it was during biblical times.



Though Hanukkah and Christmas share many similarities, such as recognizing the power of light against darkness, they differ in many significant ways. Christmas is widely accepted as a Christian celebration, while Hanukkah has no religious significance outside of the Jewish faith. However, the holidays still have a lot to offer each other, and when celebrated together, can make for a memorable experience.



Origin of the Jewish Holiday at Christmas



The story of Hanukkah begins with a group of Hebrews known as the Maccabees. In approximately 167 B.C., they fought to reclaim the Temple in Jerusalem from Syrian-Greek rulers who had taken control of it. When they regained power over the temple, they found only enough oil to light the menorah, or seven-branched candelabra, for one night. Miraculously, the oil lasted for eight days, giving them time to make new oil.



To commemorate the event, the rabbis declared an eight-day festival of lights, or Hanukkah, which is observed every year around Christmastime. The holiday honors the bravery of the Maccabees and celebrates the victory of light over darkness. It involves lighting a menorah, playing games, exchanging gifts and enjoying traditional Jewish foods.



Symbolism of the Holiday



The menorah is the most recognizable symbol of Hanukkah, and it plays a key role in the holiday. It is lit in homes for eight nights to remember the miracle of the sacred oil lasting those eight days. Each night, another candle is added, beginning with one on the first night and increasing up to eight by the final evening.



In addition, dreidels are spun during Hanukkah. These four-sided tops are inscribed with the four Hebrew letters that spell out “a great miracle happened here.” Players try to spin the longest or highest dreidel, and can win coins, chocolate or other prizes. This game is enjoyed by both children and adults alike, and is a fun way to pass the time during Hanukkah.



Hanukkah and Christmas Together



Although Hanukkah does not share the same religious significance as Christmas, it can still be a part of the holiday season. For those celebrating both holidays, Christmas trees can be decorated and lit with blue and white lights to recognize Hanukkah. Menorahs can be placed alongside ornaments on Christmas trees to honor both holidays.



In addition, many families observe Christmas traditions such as decorating the tree and singing carols, as well as traditional Jewish customs. This is a wonderful opportunity to teach children about both religions and how to appreciate the rich culture and history of both. It also gives children and adults the chance to learn more about each other’s traditions and cultures.



Conclusion: Celebrating the Jewish Holiday at Christmas



Hanukkah and Christmas are two holidays that come together to create a special and meaningful celebration for those of all faiths. By embracing the history and symbolism of both holidays, people can gain a better understanding of each other’s culture. For Jews, Hanukkah is a reminder of the importance of perseverance and faith, and Christmas is an opportunity to share this message of hope with others. Together, these two holidays bring light and joy to the hearts of many around the world.


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