Hanukkah, the Season of Miracles!
Hanukkah (or Chanukah) is not one of the Biblical feasts but, rather, traditional Jews and Netzari/ Messianic believers celebrate this holiday in remembrance of the victory of a small band of Jews over the occupying army of Syrian king Antiochus Epiphanes. Antiochus, who came to power in 175 B.C.E. forbade the Jews to practice their religion, and desecrated their Temple....
Hanukkah in a nutshell:
Hanukkah (the Festival of Lights or Feast of Dedication) is an eight-day holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple (the Second Temple) in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BCE. It is observed for eight nights, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar.
The festival is observed by the kindling of the lights of a very special candelabrum, a nine-branched Menorah or Hanukiah, one additional light on each night of the holiday, progressing to eight on the final night. An extra candle called a shamash is also lit each night for the purpose of lighting the others, and is given a distinct location, usually above or below the rest.
When lighting the candles of the Hanukiah each night, it is customary to say the following prayers:
Blessed are You, YHWH, King of the universe,
Who has wrought miracles for our forefathers in those days at this season.
Blessed are You, YHWH, King of the universe,
Who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season.
More than 2000 years ago for a time the land of Israel was part of the Syrian Empire, dominated by Syrian rulers of the dynasty of the Seleucids. In 167 B.C.E. an elderly Jewish priest, Mattiyahu, was confronted by a group of Syrian soldiers in his town of Modi'. The soldiers attempted to coax Mattiyahu and his five sons to worship at an altar they had erected to Zeus, but he refused, and boldly tore down the altar. He then fled to the mountains along with his sons and a few followers.
This small group, known as the Maccabees, later initiated a revolt against the Syrian army and, fighting with little more than sticks and farm tools, won victory after victory over the Syrian army. On the twenty-fifth of Kislev, the Maccabees entered Jerusalem, and took back the Temple.
The story goes, because the Syrians had left it in a state of grievous ruin, the men set out to restore it, and the first thing they did was to light the golden menorah, which was supposed to burn continuously. Unfortunately, they only had oil enough to keep the menorah burning for 24 hours. But, as they worked fervently day after day to clean and repair the Temple, the oil in the Menorah never ran out. The Menorah burned for eight days, long enough for new oil to be made.
Thus, Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days, beginning on the 25th of Kislev. Hanukkah actually means "Feast of Dedication", because the Temple was restored to a holy place of worship and rededicated to the God of Israel, Adonai Elohim Tzva'ot. Hanukkah commemorates not only the miracle of the Menorah, but also the victory of the Maccabees. How the Maccabees won, to this day, is both a mystery and a miracle - perhaps similar to the victory the tiny outnumbered state of Israel experienced in the Yom Kippur War in 1973.
Yes, it's true we can't "prove" that the "oil story" is actually true, but we can prove they lit candles to commemorate the first Hanukkah. The story in every other respect is confirmed in the two primary, although "uncanonized" sources of 1-2 Maccabees and Josephus. (Non-canonized references include Book of Judith, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabee's, and Josephus. Talmudic reference includes Rosh HaShana 24b, Yoma 16a, Megillat Taanit chapter nine, Mishna Bikkurim 1:6.)
But honestly, if celebrating Hanukkah was good enough for Y'shua (see below), why wouldn't it be good enough for us?
By the way, Yeshua our Messiah - the "Light of the World" was conceived during "The Festival of Lights" and he participated in the feast of Dedication! (You can count exactly nine months from Hanukkah to Sukkot!)
John 10: 22. And the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah) occurred in Urishlim and it was winter. 23. And Y'shua was walking in the temple in the porch of Shleemon. 24. And the Yehudeans surrounded him and said to him, "How long will you hold our souls if you are the Mashiyach? Tell us openly." 25. Y'shua answered and said to them, I have told you and you do not believe! And the works that I do in the Name of my Father they testify concerning me. 26. But you do not believe because you are not of my sheep, just as I have told you. 27. My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they come after me. 28. And I give to them life that is eternal and they will not perish and no man will ever snatch them from my hands. 29. For my Father who gave them to me is greater than all, and no man is able to snatch them from the hands of my Father. 30. I and the Father are one.
31. And again the Yehudeans took up rocks to stone him. 32. Y'shua said to them, Many pleasing works from the presence of my Father I have shown you. For which of them do you stone me? 33. The Yehudeans said to him, "It is not because of the pleasing works that we stone you, rather because you do blaspheme and that while you are a Son of man you make yourself Elohim!" 34. Y'shua said to them Is it not written in your Torah that "I have told you that you are Elohim." 35. If those people he called Elohim because the Miltha of Elohim was with them and Scripture is not able to be broken 36. To him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world you say, "You blaspheme!" concerning that I had told you that "I am the Son of Elohim." 37. Unless I do the works of my Father, do not believe me. 38. If, however, I do them even if you do not believe me, you believe the works that you may know and believe that my Father is in me and I am in my Father. (Aramaic English New Testament)
Please note, on Hanukkah we use a nine-pronged menorah instead of the usual seven-pronged one for daily use - the one YHWH Himself designed!