Feast Of Dedication (Hanukkah)

The many name of Hanukkah

  • Hanukkah or Chanukah נוּכָּה or חֲנוּכָּה
  • Feast of Dedication
  • Festival of Lights חַג הַאוּרִים
  • Feast of the Maccabees
  • Hanukkah in Hebrew does not have a good translation to English. The letter that starts the word is pronounced with a ‘huk’ sound that comes from the back of the throat. this is why Hanukah is sometimes spelt with an H or a CH.
  • Hanukkah in English means ‘Establishing’ or ‘Dedication’. hence why in translation of the Hebrew, Hanukkah is also known as the Feast of Dedication.
  • The festival of lights goes back to the miracle of oil and the lighting of the golden lampstand in the temple during the rededication.
  • Hanukkah is also know as the feast of the Maccabees who are the family that greatly influenced the story of Hanukkah.

History of Hanukkah

  • Hanukkah celebrates the Maccabees victory over the Greeks and the rededication of the temple in 165 BC after the Seleucid King Antiochus Epiphanes of Syria (Greek Empire) defiled it by sacrificing a pig on the altar and pouring the blood on the scriptures.
  • He banned Jewish practices (such as circumcision, a ban on public reading of the Torah [first 5 books of the bible], keeping the Sabbath and other high holy days)
  • He also erected a statue of Zeus and put Greek gods in the temple.
  • The Maccabee’s victory is recorded in the book of Maccabees which is included in the Apocrypha and in the Talmud (Rabbinical books)

Judah Maccabeus יהודה המכבי– 

  • 2nd century military commander who was the major figure behind the conquest of the Hasmonean or Maccabean revolt that established Jewish sovereignty in the state of Israel. 
  • He made an agreement with Rome and became allied, tying the hands of the weaker Seleucid Empire.
  • He is a figure that stands for religious liberty and the standing for the rights of religious expression for many Christian persecuted societies. 
  • He died in Battle of Elasa in 160 BC.
  • His death stirred the Jews to renewed resistance. After several additional years of war under the leadership of two of Mattathias’ other sons (Jonathan and Simon), the Jews finally achieved independence and the liberty to worship freely.

The Rededication of the Temple

  • They cleaned out all of the Foreign Greek gods. 
  • On the very anniversary on the day the temple was first profaned (25th of Kislev- Nov/ Dec) he performed a rededication ceremony. It was a party that went on for 8 days and a single droplet of oil that should have only lasted for 1 day lasted for 8 days.  
  • This is where Hanukkah is also known as the Feast of Dedication based of the Rededication of the temple. 
  • It is also known as the Feast of Lights because of a legendary miraculous provision of oil for the eternal light in the temple.

The first Hanukkah actually celebrated a different holiday

  • When the Maccabees prevailed over the Syrian Greeks and rededicated the Temple, they wanted to get started right away celebrating important holidays they’d missed along the way, including Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles), a week-long holiday that should have been celebrated in the early autumn. 
  • Despite the fact that it was now early winter, they made an exception and celebrated Sukkot.
  •  Although Sukkot was never again celebrated in the winter (it went back to being a fall holiday), the week-long Sukkot celebration formed the basic time frame for all Hanukkah celebrations thereafter.

Christ Celebrated Hanukkah?

Although most of the story of Hanukkah is written about in books between the Old and New Testament, The Feast of Dedication, (also known as Hanukkah) was celebrated in Jesus’s Day:

Miracle of the Oil Lamp

  • When the Greeks entered the temple, they polluted all the oils in the Temple.  
  • When the Maccabean army overcame and defeated them, they checked and they found but one cruse of oil that was set in place with the seal of the High Priest, but there was in it only (enough to light for a single day). 
  • This is when a miracle happened, and that little bit of oil lasted for an entire 8 days, which was enough time to prepare more oil to keep the menorah continually burning in the temple.

Why do we celebrate Hanukkah?

  • Hanukkah is a reminder of those who courageously remain faithful to God in the face of persecution. 
  • Hanukkah is also a reminder that God is faithful and delivers his people not only from the oppression of Antiochus Epiphanes, but also from the oppression of sin and death.
  • One major theme throughout the new testament is remaining faithful to Christ, especially during persecution. (Matthew, 5L10-12; 1 Cor 4:12; 2 Cor 4:9) 
  • The book of Revelation speaks specifically to the persecution believers will face before the return of Christ. (Rev 2:10; 13:10)

When is Hanukkah?

  • Hanukkah falls in November or December. 
  • The dates move around because they are based off the Hebrew Lunisolar Calendar and not the Gregorian calendar used secularly today. 
  • Hanukah falls on the 25th of the month of Kislev and goes to the 2nd of the month of Tevet.

How do we celebrate Hanukah?

Hanukkah is a minor holiday

  • There are two types of Holidays in the bible. 1) is commanded by god for us to celebrate and these are given in detail in the Torah books of Leviticus, Deuteronomy and Numbers. These holidays mainly fall in the spring and fall and these are considered the major holidays. 2) Man made holidays- this includes Hanukkah and Purim (winter holidays)- these are man made holidays but they were accepted by god for us to practice showing that Jesus himself actually celebrated in them. They are reminders of our devotion and dedication to the ways of Christ.
  • A minor holiday implies the rules of a typical high holy day, which is to be treated as a Sabbath day of rest, do not need to be observed. (working is permitted, lighting of a fire can take place etc.)
  • Because Hanukkah holiday falls near Christmas, it’s a common belief that Hanukkah is the most important holiday in Jewish tradition, but it’s actually not. Those would be the High Holy Days: Yom Teurah (Feast of Trumpets) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) that happen in the fall and Passover (Pesach) in the spring.

Other ideas…

  • It lasts for 8 days and 8 nights. 
  • It is primarily a family holiday that centres around the lighting of the Menorah.
  • Each night another candle is light.
  • Holiday foods such as Latkes (potato pancakes) and donuts fried in oil. This oil is a reminder of the miracle of the oil.
  • Because Hanukkah falls close to Christmas, it has become customary to give gifts, often one per night as the candles are lit.  
  • Instead of presents money is often exchanged. This is called Gelt
  • The colours for Hanukkah are blue and white.

The Menorah

  • It is customary to light a candelabra known as a Menorah on Hanukkah in remembrance of  the miracle of the oil. 
  • On each night of Hanukkah, at sundown (a new day), a new candle is light (except for the Sabbath- Friday night- Saturday night). 
  • The process of lighting a new candle is repeated each night until all the candles are lit.

Menorah vs. HanukkiyahWhy only 7 Candles and not 9?

The menorah is a seven-branched candelabra used in synagogues. The hanukkiyah is a nine-branched candelabra used during Hanukkah. Because the hanukkiyah can also be called a Hanukkah menorah, confusion often sets in.
Tradition states that the hanukkiyah should have all candles or wicks at the same level, with only the shamash – the ninth candle or wick, for lighting the other eight – a bit higher or lower.

  Are there any pictures of the Menorah?

  • In 70 AD, when the Romans came in and took the Menorah out of the temple and brought it to Rome, the Golden Lampstand was depicted on a mural on the Arch of Titus.
  • This is the oldest picture of the menorah and it shows the candle only had 7 sticks and not 8 or 9.  The bible describes what the golden lampstand was to look like and it also only had 7 stick and not 8 or 9.

What do you eat at Hanukkah?

  • It’s customary to invite family and friends over for dinner every night of Hanukkah.
  • On the first day and the last day of Hanukkah it is customary to have a huge feast.
  • ….But what do we eat?

Matzo Ball Soup

  • At every festive meal Matzo ball soup needs to make an appearance!
  • Find the Recipe here.

Beef Brisket

  • You can really choose any meat dish or vegetarian alterative.
  • The most commonly served dish is Beef Brisket.
  • Find the Recipe here.

The Challah

  • Challah bread makes an appearance at most holidays and Hanukkah is no exception to this rule.
  • Find the Recipe here.

Latkes Latkes and more Latkes

  • These are fried potato pancakes made from grated potatoes and served with apple sauce (sweet) or sour cream (savory).
  • Find the Recipe here.


  • In our family, we have German heritage so a stable on our table is a purple fermented cabbage.
  • Find the Recipe here.

For Dessert

  • Sufganiyots
    • Deep- fried jelly doughnuts
    • Find the Recipe here
  • Chocolate Rugelach
    • Chocolate croissants
    • Find the Recipe here