While the two festivals are very different in message and observance, there are, however, some significant links between Hanukkah and Christmas. The New Testament records that Jesus, like other Jews of his time, celebrated the eight days of Hanukkah: “It was the feast of the Dedication at Jerusalem; it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon.” (John 10:22-23) The Hebrew word “Hanukkah” means “Dedication.”
If Charles Dickens had written about Hanukkah in a manner similar to his “A Christmas Carol,” the famous English author would have noted that special prayers are recited in Jewish homes each night of the holiday as young (and not so young) children light colorful candles in a candelabrum or menorah. Dickens would surely describe in loving detail the unmistakable aroma and taste of the two traditional holiday treats: potato pancakes fried in oil and loaded with calories and cholesterol along with small jelly doughnuts that rapidly raise a person’s blood sugar level. Gifts are exchanged among family members and friends and a series of well-known songs are sung that are especially beloved by adults — including me — because they evoke warm joyous childhood memories of Hanukkahs long past.