The Hanukkah and Christmas Connection

See, long before the birth of Jesus, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, son of Antiochus III, King of Syria, outlawed the Jewish religion (under Persian control).  He ordered all Jewish people to renounce Judaism and worship the Greek Gods.  According to the legend, Antiochus IV Epiphanes sent his soldiers to Jerusalem to massacre thousands of Jewish people.  The Jewish people rebelled, led by the Maccabees, and overcame the Persians with the help of God. 

Upon the return of the Maccabees, they saw that the Persians had sacrificed a pig (unkosher animal) at the Temples alter.  When rededicating the Temple, there was only enough oil to keep the menorah lit for one day.  Instead, the menorah stayed lit for eight days, igniting the celebration of Hanukkah (Keener, 2012). 

If you think about it, without the Maccabees winning the battle, Judaism would not have survived, setting the context for the future birth of Jesus Christ.      
It was during one winter of the Hanukkah celebrations, Jesus declared himself the light of the world (John 8:12 and 9:5).  Those who believed His word, Messianic Jews, would follow and worship Him, connecting the celebration of Hanukkah with the Messiah. 

The lighting of the menorah, and prayers to God, celebrate Hanukkah, thanking Him for His miraculous light.  So, while Hanukkah was honored by the Jewish people, years later, it would be written in a similar context in Christian writings (2 Corinthians, Mathew 5:16, John 8:12, etc.).

So, while most Christians do not celebrate Hanukkah, it is important to know and understand the history and connection of both religions that gave us both Hanukkah and Christmas.  The connection… Without the events of the Maccabee-Persian war originating the celebration of Hanukkah, we would not have the future celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, Christmas.                

Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas!


Dr. Amy Miller