Given that the Jewish people have faced many challenges and trials throughout history, it should come as no surprise that most of the celebrations have a common theme: “They tried to kill us, we survived, let’s eat!” Hanukkah is no exception to this.
“But Jeff, isn’t Hanukkah just the Jewish version of Christmas?”
While both Hanukkah and Christmas focus on miracles, this is perhaps the only thing these two events have in common. Hanukkah ironically is not considered a holiday, but instead is a festival celebrating a miracle. To make a very long story short, a temple in Jerusalem was defiled and only one day worth of oil remained to keep the temple lamp lit. The miracle: the oil lasted for the 8 days required to source more.
Originally gift exchange was not a part of the celebration; this was added later in America so that Jewish children would not feel left out when their Christian peers received gifts for their holiday. Traditionally children would receive gelt, a form of gold coins each night of the celebration.
No matter what you celebrate or how you celebrate it, the important thing is to remember the miracles in our lives: big and small, past and present. Make sure to celebrate making it through hard times even when the future seems dark, a rather fitting theme as 2020 comes to a close.