Chanukah – The Origins

nayrot4“Chanukah started out with another name. Before the Maccabean triumph it was called Nayrot (lights). It was the winter festival that celebrated the rebirth of light. At the winter solstice, darkness ceases to expand, and the day begins to grow longer. Since darkness is death and light is life, the reversal is a dramatic moment in the year.

As an eight-day festival, Nayrot conformed to the two other seasonal holidays, Sukkot and Pesakh. Fires were lit on each of the eight days to imitate the change and to encourage nature, by suggestion, to continue it’s good work. Ultimately, the fires were confined in each household to a board of eight lights. The eight days and the lights were part of Jewish life long before the legend of the holy made it’s appearance.“

From “Judaism Beyond God”
Rabbi Sherwin Wine
Milan Press 1995