Hanukkah (or also spelt "Chanukah") is the celebration of the Jewish victory over the then occupying Greek Seleucid forces in Jerusalem.  The Greeks wanted to force the Jews to cease worshiping God as prescribed in the Bible.  The Jewish people at the time rose up against the Greeks and defeated them.  The Temple was then rededicated on the 25th of the month Kislev (usually November or December, depending on how it falls that particular year).  The word "Hanukkah" means "dedication."

The miracle of Hanukkah is of the Menorah in the Temple.  According to tradition, when the Jews had regained the control over the Temple area they found enough purified oil for only one day.  It would take eight days to prepare more purified oil.  The Jews poured the one day's worth of all into the Menorah and miraculously it burned for a full eight days and nights.  This is the reason for the eight days of celebration for Hanukkah today.

Since Hanukkah is a holiday that is identified with the miracle of oil, foods cooked with oil are eaten during this time; potato latkes and special holiday donuts.  

Hanukkah, although not a "Biblical" holiday, is highly celebrated by Jews in Israel and around the world.  

Hanukkah is also mentioned in the New Testament.  It is written in John 10:22 that in the winter time, during the Feast of Dedication, Yeshua (Jesus) was walking in the Temple area, in the portico of Solomon.  A lively conversation took place on this celebration of Hanukkah between Yeshua and some Jewish people regarding whether or not Yeshua was the Messiah.  The conversation than turned into a more serious conversation regarding Yeshua's claim to deity.  The Jew's of that time wished to stone him but he escaped.  The end result of this scenario is that many believed in Yeshua at this time (John 10:42).

Hanukkah is a beautiful holiday to remember the faithfulness of God to watch over His people and to provide for them a way of salvation through extraordinary means. Let us not forget that God is the God of miracles and that He still does miracles today!

This year Hanukkah will be celebrated starting on November 27th in the evening until December 5th in the day time.

Happy Hanukkah from the Bible Society staff!