Why Are Christmas And Hanukkah Called The Season Of Lights?

Judaism and Christianity have two holidays, namely Christmas and Hanukkah, during the winter months. The common theme of these holidays includes connecting with loved ones, sharing with others, and, not to forget, enjoying delicious holiday meals. Each of these holidays revolves around a theme of light overcoming darkness.

In this article, we will explore why Christmas and Hanukkah are known as the season of lights. For this, we will first look at Christmas and Hanukkah separately and find out how and why these festivals are associated with lights.


Christmas is a religious holiday celebrated all over the world. Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus on the 25th of December, even though his actual date of birth is unknown, and this date was chosen by the Church several centuries later.

Throughout the Christmas season, families decorate their homes, attend worship services, shop for gifts, and hang stockings from the fireplace mantel, waiting for Santa Claus to pay a visit.

Another thing that families do on Christmas is decking their Christmas trees with ornaments and lights. Each year, people dig them out and decorate their homes and trees with these cheerful and colorful reminders of the holiday season.

But did you know Christmas lights started out just as candles? The candles were attached to the tree using pins or wax. The practice started in Germany during the 1800s, and over the next two centuries, it became a common German practice and started to spread in other Eastern European countries.

The practice originally started to add illumination to the ornaments that were placed on the tree. This practice continued around till the 1900s when candleholders became popular, and people started using them instead of pins or wax to hold the candles to the trees. Nevertheless, the purpose remained the same – to illuminate the decorated tree. Even in recent years, there has been no decrease in either the love of Christmas lights or in their ever-increasing uses.

Christmas lights are one of the biggest symbols of the holiday season. Many families have made a tradition out of decorating their homes and Christmas trees with lights. It’s an excellent way to bring friends and family together in a fun and creative way.

Hanukkah – The Festival of Lights

Hanukkah, also called Chanukah, starts on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev. The Jewish festival lasts for eight days and typically takes place in December. However, it sometimes starts in November. Hanukkah is referred to as the Festival of Lights to commemorate the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem in 164 BC after 3 years of conflict and war.

At the time, Jerusalem was a part of the Hellenistic empire which was governed by the emperor Antiochus IV. The government at his time introduced a religion other than Judaism. As the Temple turned into a place of icons and sacrifices, the people showed resistance. This resulted in 3 years of aggressive rebellion, which was led by the Maccabees, who were victorious in the year 164 BC.

When they got back to the Temple, they discovered that the Lamp of Eternal Light was no longer there. They constructed a simple menorah; however, they could just get a small container of oil. With only sufficient oil to light the lamp for a single night, the Maccabees sent for more oil. Surprisingly, the oil lasted for a good eight days until more oil could get delivered.

The festival of Hanukkah is celebrated for eight evenings and entails symbolically lighting the menorah every evening. In the US, Jewish families have several traditions for this festival. These include lighting candles on the hanukkiah (a menorah with nine branches) after sundown every evening, eating holiday foods such as latkes (potato pancakes fried in oil), family get-togethers exchanging gifts, and playing games like a dreidel.

The Season of Lights

Since both Hanukkah and Christmas are associated with lights, the time when they occur is referred to as the Season of Lights. During Hanukkah, lights have a symbolic meaning and are used to commemorate the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem. Families light candles on the hanukkiah after sundown every evening for eight days. On the other hand, Christmas lights are a hallmark of the holiday season. Many people and families decorate their Christmas trees and house with lights.

Last Few Words

We hope this Season of Lights is not just a time of merriment and celebration but also a time of reflection!