Hanukkah is not the Jewish version of Christmas. Although it is celebrated the same time of year, Hanukkah commemorates the physical and spiritual victory of the Jews over the Greeks more than 2,000 years ago.
Hanukkah is also known as the:
- Festival of Lights, since the flame in the Temple burned miraculously for eight days.
- Feast of Dedication, since the Temple was rededicated after being desecrated.
Hanukkah is celebrated from 25 Kislev - 2 Tevet, according to the Jewish calendar, which is lunar, so it falls on different dates each year. This year Hanukkah begins Thursday evening, December 21, 2000 and ends on Friday evening, December 29.
How Hanukkah is celebrated:
Each evening at sundown, the Hanukkah menorah is lit. The menorah has 9 candles. The one in the middle (called the Shamash - or Servant Candle) is used to light all the others. The other eight (4 on each side, and a little lower than the Shamash) are for each of the eight days that the Temple flame miraculously burned. On the first night, only the far right candle is lit. The second night, two candles are lit starting at the far right. The third night, three candles, and so it goes until the eighth and final night when all eight candles are lit. They are lit for a half hour, during which we do no work, but instead we remember the work of God (His miracles and providence) and praise Him.
The Servant Candle in the middle reminds me of Messiah, who is the light of the world, and from whom we receive light for our own lives. Yochanan (John) 1:4 In him was life and the life was the light of mankind.
The lighting of the candles is accompanied by two prayers:
1. Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to kindle the Chanukah light.
1. Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-he-nu Me-lech Ha-olam A-sher Ki-de-sha-nu Be-mitz-vo-tav Ve-tzi-va-nu Le-had-lik Ner Cha-nu-kah.
2. Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who performed miracles for our forefathers in those days, at this time.
2. Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-hei-nu Me-lech Ha-olam She-a-sa Ni-sim La-avo-te-nu Ba-ya-mim Ha-hem Bi-z'man Ha-zeh.Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the Universe,Who has made us holy through your WordAnd has instructed us to kindle the Hanukkah light.
In our family we sing the first part of the Shema each night after the candles are lit.
Hear, O Israel, the L-rd is our G-d, the L-rd is One. Blessed be the name of the glory of His kingdom forever and ever
Sh'ma Yis-ra-eil, A-do-nai E-lo-hei-nu, A-do-nai E-chad. Ba-ruch sheim k'vod mal-chu-to l'o-lam va-ed.
Did Yeshua (Jesus) celebrate Hanukkah?
Well... it is not part of the Old Testament law, but Yochanan (John) 10:22 tells us that Yeshua celebrated it and therefore my family is proud to celebrate it as well!
Some links to support this: