Hanukkah is a winter feast on the Jewish holiday cycle that celebrates the Maccabees’ successful liberation from paganism and rededication to God of the Temple of Jerusalem
(cf. 2 Macc. 10:1-8). The miracle of the oil attributed to Hanukkah is not found in the Bible but in the Talmud. The celebration is an eight-day event that begins on the twenty-fifth day of the Hebrew month of Kislev. Because the Hebrew calendar is a lunar calendar, the date of Hanukkah is moveable on the Gregorian calendar. This year Hanukkah will fall from
December 7 - December 15, 2004.
In the New Testament, Hanukkah, also called the Feast of the Dedication, is mentioned in
John 10:22-41. Jesus uses the occasion of the Festival of Lights to manifest the nature of his relationship with the Father (cf. “I and the Father are one,” v. 30). In response, the Jews, who are celebrating a feast established in commemoration of the cleansing of the Temple of false gods, attempt to stone Jesus because they believe he is falsely passing off himself as a god
For a Catholic to read the Old Testament and New Testament accounts of Hanukkah in preparation for Christmas would not be wrong. What would be problematic would be for a Catholic to attempt to celebrate Hanukkah as if he were a Jew religiously obliged to celebrate a Jewish holiday. Catholics’ primary obligation during this time of year is the observance of Advent, which prepares us for the celebration of the birth of Christ.
Can Christians participate in Hanukkah celebrations?**