I love Hanukkah, particularly in New York City. The days are short and by late afternoon the city glows with Christmas lights, menorahs, and enticing shop windows with extravagant displays. I love crispy potato fritters (latkes) with apple sauce and exchange of presents with my kids and grandchildren. It is a happy holiday with a serious side.
You’re probably saying, what is Hanukkah? Well, traditionally it’s a beautiful Jewish celebration of the victories of the Maccabees over the atrocities of the rule of Antiochus Epiphanes. The feast gets its name from the rededication of the Temple following these victories. Hanukkah is the Hebrew word meaning dedication.
More importantly for those of us who are Christians, there are two other reasons for celebrating this feast. Firstly, Jesus celebrated it Himself. In John 10:22-23 it says Jesus was in the Temple at the Feast of Dedication.
Secondly, Hanukkah was most likely the time when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, announcing she was about to conceive the Saviour, by the Holy Spirit, in the virgin birth. How do we know this? In Luke 1:26-38 we are told Mary conceived six months after Elizabeth had become pregnant with John the Baptist.
Additionally, we can work out from Chronicles the time of Zechariah’s Temple service – some time in June of that year. We can presume Elizabeth fell pregnant straight after Zechariah’s time of Temple service. Six months on from June is December, the time of Hanukkah. Also, we know that all the major events of salvation take place at the Feasts of the Lord (for instance, Jesus’ crucifixion at Passover). And the dedication of Jesus’ physical body, which He later referred to as the Temple at the actual Feast which celebrated the dedication of the physical Temple, fits perfectly.
So, happy Hanukkah everyone!