Hanukkah is NOT Jewish Christmas! Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday symbolizing hope. But that’s not what we are talking about today. Christmas is a very significant holiday in the Christan faith and since so many Americans are Christian, it is the name of a long break for some that can stretch anywhere from two weeks to a month. Some people try to make it more inclusive and say it’s a holiday or winter break but let’s be real, it’s Christmas break.
Hanukkah is, unlike Christmas, not as significant of a religious holiday for Jews as compared to a holiday such as the Jewish new year, also known as Rosh Hashana. The only reason it is so often compared to Christmas is because of their proximity to each other in the month of December. Hanukkah is also a lot of times compared to Christmas because of the fact that you give and get presents. There are also food ties to the holiday just like Christmas, but they are all symbolic. For instance latkes, or potato pancakes, are a symbol for the oil that was used for eight nights and we use the oil to cook the latkes. The oil is a very symbolic part of the Hanukkah story. The Seleucid empire came through the town and wiped out the temple and there was oil in the temple. It was said the oil would only last for one night but it lasted for eight. So now Jews use the menorah and light a candle for each night using the main candle.
These two holidays are always compared for these reasons: time of year (early winter), presents, and food. However, they are completely different. The story of Jesus being born is central to the Christian faith. But Hanukkah is about a war known as the Maccabean revolt, which was a fight for survival between the Jewish people and the Seleucid Empire. It is a story about hope and how the Jews won the war. Now we celebrate by getting presents, singing songs and eating chocolate coins. So now you understand the differences and I hope you have a great holiday or whatever, if anything, you celebrate at this time of year!