Chanukah begins on Wednesday night this year. Tomorrow night. December first. Yes, it is confusing. Even we Jews are confused. Why – everyone is wondering — does Chanukah coincide with Christmas some years, and other years, Chanukah arrives weeks before?

created at: 2010-11-30The answer is that the Jewish calendar is different from the secular calendar. The Jewish calendar is lunar, and the secular calendar is solar. Since each Jewish month is only 28 days long, and the secular months are 30 or 31 days long, after a few years, the Jewish calendar and the secular calendar become out of sync. The Jewish calendar corrects this by actually adding an extra month every few years in order to get things back to normal. This spring, there will be an extra Jewish month (Adar II) added, and by next Chanukah, Christmas and Chanukah will coincide once more.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Chanukah is really a very minor holiday in the Jewish year. The Jewish holy days of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Passover are much more important than Chanukah. But due to its (sometimes) proximity to Christmas, Chanukah has become much more important than it was originally intended to be, especially in the U.S. And then, of course, there are the presents. Eight nights of presents.

Read the rest of this post at MotherThoughts.