Hanukkah Explained By Christians
How to Explain That Hanukkah is Not the Jewish Christmas
Explain the big difference—the real difference.While the two holidays occur at roughly the same time, the reasons for the celebrations are not at all the same.
- Hanukkah is a celebration of a different kind of miracle. Upon Judah Maccabee's defeat of the Syrians, the Second Temple in Judea was rebuilt. During the dedication, a menorah was to be lit, its candles burning every night. Though there was only oil enough to keep the candles lit for a single night, they burned for eight. Those eight nights are celebrated each year during Hanukkah.
- Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus, the son of God. For them, it's a miracle of the most profound sort, and is the most important Christian holiday other than Easter.
Compare the candles.This may be the closest the two holidays come to being similar. Each tradition was born of persecution, though like the holidays themselves, the differences are profound.
- Though the long persecution by the Greek and final defeat of the Syrians lead to the cleansing of the temple—and the subsequent miracle—the menorah is a symbol of victory over a cruel, but vanquished enemy. Like Christmas candles, the menorah is often displayed prominently in a window as a reminder to the faithful.
- The placing of candles in the windows, for Christians, came about as a result of the persecution of Irish Catholics by the Protestant English. Catholicism was forbidden during the Reformation, and the penalties were harsh—up to and including death. At Christmas time, Irish Catholic families—wanting a priest to visit their home and give them their sacraments (in return for a warm place to sleep)—would leave the doors unlocked, with candles in the windows as a signal.
Discuss the presents."Ah ha!", say the Christians. "Do you not exchange presents,just like Christmas?" they ask. Explain to them that it's a time of family celebration, and if gifts are given, they are generally small trifles. The rampant gift-giving mania that surrounds Christmas, and to a much lesser extent, Hanukkah, has more to do with the unbridled consumerism than anything religious.
- During Hanukkah, children (and adults, too) play with the dreidel, in an effort to collect the most Hanukkah gelt.
- Many Jewish people do not even exchange/receive/give presents.
- On Christmas, children play with Barbie, or their new radio-controlled helicopter (attacking Barbie, no doubt), and shred open present after present. Adults play with their new What's its.
Talk about the food.The obvious difference is that on Christmas Day, Christians have a feast, usually involving eating too much turkey with too many relatives never seen the rest of the year. Jews take advantage of that, and go to the uncrowded movies, and eat Chinese food (as the Chinese don't generally celebrate Christmas, either, and their restaurants are open).
- Much "Hanukkah food" alludes to the miracle itself: many of the traditional foods are things like latkes (potato pancakes), and sufganiyot (jelly donuts), which are fried in oil.
- The Christian feast has its origins in pagan times. The holiday itself, while celebrating the birth of Jesus, doesn't celebrate his actual (quite unknown) birthday. Christians co-opted Saturnalia, which in turn is based on the winter solstice—the shortest day of the year, after which the sun is reborn. With that celebration came a feast: there's nothing better to do in the dead of winter than make a nice, hot meal!
Respond to the argument about "time off." On Christmas Day, most business are closed down. Nobody goes to work, because there's no work to go to that day. For Jews, it's a nice day off. For Christians, it's origins were in being a day to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
Sum it up.Put it simply, Hanukkah is a (relatively) minor Jewish holiday that celebrates the Miracle of Light. Christmas is the major Christian holiday. It combines the birth of the Holy Savior with the pagan festival of Saturnalia. Any similarity between Christmas and Hanukkah is purely coincidental.
QuestionMy brother sends our Jewish friends a Christmas card. That seems insulting to me, although I know he means well. Last year I sent them a Hanukkah card. What to do? Generic message?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerMany Jews receive Christmas cards, and generally do not find it offensive. If you are uncomfortable sending a Christmas card, try a simple "Happy Holidays."Thanks!
QuestionHow do I answer the following question for the last time? In my house we do not give presents for 8 days for Hanukkah.wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThe key is to not answer questions that are not really questions. Meaning, if you identify that the one who's asking is not sincerely asking, don't bother giving a real answer or just keep it short: In short, it's enough for you to know that Hanukkah is Hebrew for Dedication. That's it! Remember that it's your holiday or tradition to keep, not theirs! Let them ask, but no matter what keep it short. Unless the questions are sincere. In such a case, you must identify the sincerity and elaborate just a bit more.Thanks!
QuestionSo do Jewish people put up Christmas trees and celebrate the Christian holiday with gift giving? Is it an insult to A Jewish person to receive a Christmas gift from a Christian friend?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt is not necessarily traditional in the Jewish faith to celebrate Christmas, but that doesn't mean that it is forbidden. Many people celebrate on Christmas because it is traditional to the country in which they live, or because non-Jewish friends do it too. It is not insulting to receive a Christmas gift; however, you may wish to "re-brand" your gift as a Hanukkah present. The Jewish festival of Hanukkah falls at the same time as Christmas, in the winter, and it too involves gift-giving. Therefore, it may be in better taste to give a Hanukkah gift, rather than a Christmas one. But presents are presents, and I'm sure that anyone who receives your gift will be grateful.Thanks!
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- Understand that there are many cultures and many traditions in this world, and coincidence is not convergence. Virtually every religion has celebrations at key celestial points, especially the solstices, so just enjoy the season, regardless of what it's called.
- Take part in the Hanukkah festivities.
- Explain to your children the differences between Christmas and Hanukkah.
- If your Jewish friends invite you for Hanukkah, visit with them and ask them to explain the holiday to you.
- Some non-Jews can't or won't understand the differences between Hanukkah and Christmas. It's best not to force the issue.
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Date: 01.12.2018, 14:14 / Views: 33242