Celebrating Christmas with the Jews

For most people, December 25th is the day to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, but most Jews do not think of Christmas that way, In fact, Jews are uncomfortable about Christmas, they say that  they don’t have anything against people celebrating Christmas, They just don’t want to celebrate it. For the Jews, it is a time to consider ones relationship to the entire society and strengthening ones faith.

Hanukkah or Chanukah(Festival of lights) is just a minor holiday. This year, Hanukkah starts on the Hebrew calendar date of 25 Kislev, and lasts for eight days. it will start on December 1st and will end on the 9th of December. This celebration emphasizes their victory over the Hellenistic rulers of Jerusalem, from the time of Alexander Antiochus IV, who oppressed and massacred the Jews and not allowing them to practice any Jewish religion and desecrating their place of worship. Not until after 150 years, when Mattathias the Hasmonean and his son Judah Maccabee led a rebellion which put end to the Greek tyranny.

After they reclaimed their freedom, they wanted to purify their temple by candle lighting using sacred oil, for their menorah(candelabrum),but very little oil was left, for the Greeks destroyed and desecrated the oils. They knew that the oil would only last for a day, but miraculously the oil lasted for eight days. Since then, an eight day festival was declared commemorating the oils miracle, and not the victory from the rebellion.

The candle lighting was done at the first nightfall of the first day(example this year December 1st).it is arrange in the menorah, which holds 9 candles, one candle for every night of the miracle and one candle used for lighting the other candles. They call it the servant candle. One candle is added from right to left every night and according to them, they light the candle from right to left to pay honor for the newer things.

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