What is Hanukkah?
Hanukkah – meaning “dedication” – is the Jewish festival of lights lasting eight days and it normally falls around November or December.
Over two-thousand years ago, it is believed that the Jews rebelled against their ruler in Judea, who tried to make them worship Greek gods.
After three tough years of battling, the Jews finally overthrew their ruler and reclaimed the Temple of Jerusalem – restoring it to the Jewish faith and dedicating it back to their God.
A lamp burning one night’s oil was lit in order to commemorate and celebrate the dedication of the temple. Miraculously, the lamp burnt for eight days and this became known as the Miracle of the Oil!
Hanukkah – the Jewish festival of light – is the celebration that commemorates the Miracle of the Oil and the eight-day-long burning of the lamp. This is the time where Jewish people will place eight candles in a Menorah to symbolise and celebrate each day of the festival. They will also give gifts to the needy and get together with family to celebrate!
Christmas and the December Dilemma
Celebrating Christmas isn’t a part of Jewish faith – and many Jewish people choose not to observe the holiday.
Christmas is of course a huuuuuuge deal just about everywhere, meaning that the few who choose not to celebrate the popular holiday might not get that same warm, fuzzy feeling as others. Children of Jewish faith may see their Christian, and even non-Christian friends receiving presents and perhaps feel a little disassociated. This has come to be known as the December Dilemma.
Christmas Day & Chinese Food
What can Jews do on Christmas if they don’t celebrate the Christian holiday? Most of us sit down with our families to a festive turkey roast, glad to have the holidays off work. Depending on their line of work – Jewish people may not have to opportunity to work – so what can they do?
Chinese food! It’s the case that most Chinese people don’t celebrate Christmas either – with only 1% of people in China identifying with the Christian faith – so Chinese restaurants often open their doors to hungry customers on Christmas Day!
Many Chinese restaurants carry a Kosher (permissible by Jewish law) certification for their food so although Chinese food on Christmas Day might seem a little bizarre to most of us, it makes perfect sense!
As an answer to the December Dilemma, it’s also a positive in terms of inclusion for people who don’t celebrate Christmas to identify with other people who also don’t celebrate Christmas living in the same society.