The stories of Christmas and Hanukkah

Christmas: On Dec. 25, the birth of Jesus Christ is celebrated worldwide. There is much debate over whether or not he was actually born on that date, but despite the doubt, it is still celebrated on that day. According to a Fox News poll taken in 2005, over 97 percent of Americans celebrate Christmas. That percentage includes those who observe the holiday in a religious and non-religious way.

The nativity scene, which showcases baby Jesus, often include the three wise men, Balthazar, Melchior and Caspar, who found Jesus by following the star of Bethlehem. Also depicted are Mary, Joseph, angels and farm animals.

Due to the increased irreligiousness of the holiday, the figure of Santa Claus has become closely associated with Jesus. Claus is based off real-life figure Saint Nicholas, who performed miracles during his life, and the old character of Father Christmas, which was originated in the United Kingdom. Together they form to make the modern day version of Santa Claus- a pudgy old man dressed in red and white who gives presents to all the good children of the world.

Christmas boosts the economy at the end of the year, because it is the period in which most goods are sold. By far the most practiced modern day tradition of Christmas is the idea of gift giving with friends and family.

Hanukkah: Hanukkah, or Chanukah, lasts eight days, because its date depends on the Hebrew calendar. Its date differs every year, but it usually occurs near Christmas time. This year it takes place on Dec. 22.

Literally meaning “rededication”, the holiday celebrates the miracle of the one day’s worth of oil lasting eight, after a group of Jews revolted against Antiochus IV. The story is not mentioned in the Bible, but in the Talmud.

Unlike other Jewish holidays like Yom Kippur, which are more sober, Hanukkah is solely a joyful holiday full of rich traditions and fun rituals.

The celebration of Hannukah did not always include presents, but began by giving gelt, a type of chocolate. But much like Christmas, Hanukkah has become commercialized and gift giving now plays a major role in the holiday. Some families choose to give gifts on each day, others at the beginning, or at the end, or none at all.

Information taken from

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