Both Jews and Christians celebrate their “festivals of light” during the darkest period of the year. Sunrises are really late and sunsets occur in the late afternoon already.
Light was created during the creation story when God spoke light into being to expel the darkness (Genesis 1:1 – 5). A parallel can be found in the Gospel of John chapter 1 where the Messiah is referred to as the light of the world.
The Jewish celebration of Hanukkah – literally dedication – is the remembrance of the rededication of the Temple after the Jewish priestly family revolted against the Hellenistic Seleucid occupation. They could not tolerate the continued oppression and persecution of the Seleucids and ultimately liberated Jerusalem and the Temple (in 164 BCE).
Jewish tradition tells of a miracle that occurred when, during the rededication of the temple, a small jar of olive oil was found to rekindle the Menorah in the Temple. The jar only contained enough oil to burn for one day but the Menorah miraculously burned for eight days until more oil could be produced.
The Jews celebrate this festival by lighting an increasing number of candles each day of the festival until all eight candles are lit. This year Hanukkah will be celebrated from the evening of December 6 until December 14. This festival celebrates the victory of light over darkness!
We often feel that we cannot do much as individuals in this world of darkness, but this story teaches us that it is important to let our light shine – whenever the opportunity presents itself – and if we all do this we will be amazed how we can affect the world around us.
Hanukkah is a festival with the focus on children and we would like to assist many children in Israel, that live in poverty and can only dream of all the joys of this festival, to share in the joy and celebration.