What is the significance of the Jewish winter holiday, Hanukkah?

Hanukkah means “Festival of Lights.” This celebration is connected with the cleansing of the Temple by Judas Maccabeus after Antiochus Epiphanes desecrated it in 167 B.C. (See Daniel 8:11.)

This festival is observed for eight days, during which candles are lit—one on the first evening, another on the second, adding one more for every day in succession—until eight candles are lit on the last day. These lights symbolize growing faith.

We can find a New Testament account of this celebration in John 10:22, when Jesus was present for this festival. His example shows us that it is not wrong to take part in certain celebrations if those celebrations do not have a pagan origin and do not violate God’s laws. Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving Day and July 4th would be examples.

Originally, the Jews celebrated Hanukkah as a national holiday, not a religious one. However, the way in which it is celebrated today has become similar to the Christmas celebration, since some of the Christmas customs have been adopted.

Some may consider the expression “Father of lights” (Jms. 1:17) to be related to this celebration, but Hanukkah has no connection to this scripture.