What Is the Difference Between Hanukkah and Christmas?

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There are many differences between Christmas and Hanukkah, as Christmas is a major Christian holiday while Hanukkah was originally a minor Jewish festival. Traditionally, Christmas marks the birth of the Christian savior, Jesus Christ, while Hanukkah celebrates the successful rebellion of the Maccabees against their oppressors and the retaking of Jerusalem.

Christmas occurs every December 25, but Hanukkah is an eight-day winter celebration. While Christmas was originally a religious celebration, it has expanded, becoming part of popular culture. Much of the focus is on Santa Claus delivering presents to children. Perhaps due to its proximity to the progressively more secular Christmas holiday, Hanukkah has become more important within the Jewish community, but it retains much of its religious significance.

A very important symbol for Hanukkah is the menorah. It is lit daily in remembrance of the miracle of the lamp that burned for eight days during the re-consecration of Jerusalem's temple, even though the lamp's oil supply was too low for that to occur. Christmas has acquired many symbols over the years. The Nativity scene recreates the stable where the infant Jesus was born. There are also many secular images, such as the decorated Christmas tree, the Christmas stocking hung up to receive presents and Santa's sleigh pulled by reindeer.