For the first time since 1978, the holidays of Christmas and Hanukkah will coincide this year.
The eight days of Hanukkah will begin at sundown on Christmas Eve with its first day on Christmas, something that happens, roughly, every three decades or so.
The holidays have different meanings and they are celebrated with different traditions but they do have something in common: Both mark miracles of faith.
For Christians, it is the birth of a Savior, both supreme gift and supreme sacrifice, to provide a path to redemption and reconciliation with God.
For Jews, it is the liberation of Jerusalem, the rededication of the holy temple and a single day's supply of pure oil that nonetheless burned for eight days, a virtual Festival of Lights.
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
- Luke 2:1-14
What is the reason for Hanukkah? For our Rabbis taught: On the 25th of Kislev begin the days of Hanukkah, which are eight, during which lamentation for the dead and fasting are forbidden. For when the Greeks entered the Temple, they defiled all the oils in it, and when the Hasmonean dynasty prevailed against and defeated them, they searched and found only one cruse of oil which possessed the seal of the High Priest, but which contained sufficient oil for only one day's lighting; yet a miracle occurred there and they lit (the lamp) for eight days. The following year these days were appointed a Festival with the recitation of Hallel and thanksgiving.
- Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat, 21b
May 2017 be all you hope it to be.
- Breeze editorial