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Hanukkah Celebration and Traditions

Updated: Dec 26, 2022

Hanukkah (or Chanukah) begins at sundown on Sunday, December 18, 2022, and ends the evening of Monday, December 26, 2022 (8 nights). Let's learn a little about the history and common traditions today for Jewish and Christian families.

Historical Background to Hanukkah (or Chanukah)

The Maccabean revolt was led by a country priest called Mattathias, and his military followers became known as Maccabees. Successfully, Jerusalem was captured, and the Temple of Jerusalem was reconsecrated.

Hanukkah Celebration Today

Hanukkah is an act still commemorated today celebrated for eight days, in honor of the miracle of the oil that lasted eight days in the Holy Temple. Other names for Hanukkah are known as Chanukah, or Feast of Lights, Festival of Dedication, or Feast of the Maccabees. Also, it is mentioned in the New Testament, in which Jesus attends a "Feast of Dedication." (John 10:22-24)

Jesus attended the "Feast of Dedication" which is known as Hanukkah!

Traditions of Hanukkah “Festival of Lights”

  • Lighting the Menorah

    • The menorah is a gold candelabrum whose nine branches (one for each of the eight days of the holiday plus an extra “helper” shamash) are meant to be kept burning every night.

    • At sundown during the eight days of Hanukkah Jewish families recite prayers, blessings and sing songs as they light candles on each of the eight nights.

    • Candles are placed in a menorah (sometimes a hanukkiah), with the number of lights increasing each night.

    • Eight candles symbolize the number of days that the Temple lantern blazed; the ninth, the shamash, is a helper candle used to light the others.

  • Playing Dreidel. Traditional four-sided spinning top with a Hebrew letter printed on each side. Children spin the dreidel and bet on which Hebrew letter will be shown when it stops spinning. The game is usually played for chocolate gelt.

  • Giving Gifts.

    • Some give small gifts for all eight nights of the holiday, whereas some give one large gift.

  • Hanukkah Music. Several songs are associated with the festival of Hanukkah.

  • Llatkes: Traditionally fried potato pancakes eaten to remember the oil miracle

  • Sufganiyot: Deep-fried round jelly donut.

  • Hanukkah Gelt: Gold coins or gold-foiled chocolate.

  • Brisket: Beef or veal.

  • Kugel: Noodle or potato. Noodle is a sweet dish with added fruits and spices. Potato kugel is savory with onions and herbs.

  • Applesauce and sour cream

  • Hanukkah cookies

Christians Celebrate Hanukkah

• Because Hanukkah is found in the Bible. It is a biblical feast and celebration of the Jesus’ people.

• As Christians our bodies are the Temple of the Holy Spirit and need new dedication and recommitment—a deeper level of service to the Lord.

• Christians celebrating Hanukkah reconnect themselves with the Jewish Jesus and return to our Hebrew roots and learn more deeply the ways that were the ways of Jesus.

• Christians are called by God to stand with and pray for the Jewish people. We should celebrate that we are yoked together with Israel and the Jewish people.

• The Jewish people have historically suffered beyond description and have few true friends. We are called to stand with Yeshua’s people.


Take time in this holiday season to open your heart, mind, and spirit to reconnect through the celebration of Hanukkah with the Jewish root of our faith so that we will find something new and alive in our own Christian experience.

Disclaimer: I am not Jewish but I greatly appreciate learning about the culture. A special thank you to my mom for doing the research! I was so blessed by learning the history and plan to celebrate with my family.

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