Monday, December 26, 2005
A special day brought two faiths together
About Christmas and Hanukkah
On Sunday, for the first time in 46 years, Christmas and the start of Hanukkah fell on the same day.
On Dec. 25, Christians celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ. Christians maintain that Jesus, the son of God, was born of a man - a Jewish man - to suffer and die on the cross to take away the sins of the world.
The word Christmas comes from the words Cristes maesse, or "Christ's Mass." Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus for members of the Christian religion. Most historians peg the first celebration of Christmas to Rome in 336 A.D.
Meanwhile, at sundown on Sunday, Jews began their celebration of Hanukkah - the festival of lights. Hanukkah (also commonly spelled Chanukah) means "rededication" in Hebrew. The holiday, in part, honors the Maccabees, a family who successfully fought for Jewish independence from their oppressors (the Selucid Greek government) in the second century B.C. The Hanukkah observance continues through Jan. 1.
According to various demographic sources, there are nearly 2 billion Christians in a total world population of 5.5 billion. The total world population of Jews is estimated between 13 million and 14.5 million.
When Hanukkah and Christmas are celebrated on the same day, it's natural to wonder how the two major faiths are intertwined. The earliest Christian were, in fact, Jews. For that reason, the relationship wasn't something they had to ponder 2,000 years ago. Their faith was developing as they lived it.
(Many people prefer to concentrate on more secular celebrations of Christmas. Others blend the religious aspects with the secular. To learn more about secular traditions, click here.)
Related: Chanukah, Christmas
Tags: Christmas, Hanukkah, Chanukah, Holidays, Religion, History, Education by Sistrunk