This year, the ancient Jewish calendar and the modern secular calendar fall into rare alignment: the first night of Hanukah falls on Christmas Eve. It’s a good time to note similarities between the messages of the Christian and Jewish holidays that begin on the same evening. Both festivals celebrate light—and recognize the miraculous nature of illumination in the darkest, shortest days of winter. And both emphasize themes of redemption: Hanukah means “dedication” and marks the re-dedication and purification of the Temple in Jerusalem after it had been desecrated by practitioners of Greek paganism, while Christmas hails the redemptive, purifying power of a new-born Messiah.
Both holidays also stress the ability of everyone to draw closer to God and goodness, with special emphasis on joy and celebration that will encourage children to do so.
Wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukah to all those who embrace the connected messages of these beloved holidays.