Perhaps because of its proximity to the Christian celebration of Christmas, Hanukkah is one of the more familiar Jewish observances. In fact, this year, the first day of Hanukkah falls on Christmas Day.
Hanukkah means “dedication” and recalls both the rededication of the Temple and the devoted dedication of the Jewish fighters.
The miracle of Hanukkah came when it was time to light the Temple lampstand, called the menorah. The Jews could only find one jar of pure olive oil required for lighting the lamp — only enough to last one day. The Jews decided to light the menorah anyway, and miraculously, the oil lasted for eight days, long enough for more olive oil to arrive.
Today, we commemorate this miracle by lighting our own menorahs for eight nights.
While this miracle of Hanukkah is directly connected to light, the celebration of light goes beyond remembering these events of the past. Light and darkness are symbolic of the entire Hanukkah story and serve as the basis for the eternal lessons that can be learned from this rich holiday.
We’ve prepared a free downloadable study on Hanukkah to increase your understanding of this Jewish observance and enrich your own holiday celebrations.