MISHNA: And these are the festivals of gentiles: Kalenda, Saturnalia, and Kratesis, and the day of the festival of their kings, and the birthday of the king, and the anniversary of the day of the death of the king. This is the statement of Rabbi Meir. And the Rabbis say: Every death that includes public burning is a festival that includes idol worship, and any death that does not include public burning is not a festival that includes idol worship. But in the case of the day of shaving his, i.e., a gentile’s, beard and his locks, and the day of his ascent from the sea, and the day that he left prison, and also in the case of a gentile who prepared a wedding feast for his son and celebrates on that day, engaging in business is prohibited only on that day and with that man. GEMARA: Rav Ḥanan bar Rava says: When are these festivals celebrated? Kalenda is celebrated during the eight days after the winter solstice, and Saturnalia is celebrated during the eight days before the winter solstice. And your mnemonic to remember which festival is that the one that occurs after the solstice is mentioned first in the mishna, and the festival that takes place before the solstice is mentioned after, as in the verse: “You have hemmed me in behind and before, and laid Your Hand upon me” (Psalms 139:5), where the word “before” appears after the term “behind.” With regard to the dates of these festivals, the Sages taught: When Adam the first man saw that the day was progressively diminishing, as the days become shorter from the autumnal equinox until the winter solstice, he did not yet know that this is a normal phenomenon, and therefore he said: Woe is me; perhaps because I sinned the world is becoming dark around me and will ultimately return to the primordial state of chaos and disorder. And this is the death that was sentenced upon me from Heaven, as it is written: “And to dust shall you return” (Genesis 3:19). He arose and spent eight days in fasting and in prayer. Once he saw that the season of Tevet, i.e., the winter solstice, had arrived, and saw that the day was progressively lengthening after the solstice, he said: Clearly, the days become shorter and then longer, and this is the order of the world. He went and observed a festival for eight days. Upon the next year, he observed both these eight days on which he had fasted on the previous year, and these eight days of his celebration, as days of festivities. He, Adam, established these festivals for the sake of Heaven, but they, the gentiles of later generations, established them for the sake of idol worship.
(נד) ויחוגו את חנוכת המזבח שמונת ימים, ויעלו עולות ותודות בשמחת לבבם.
(נה) ויפארו את פני ההיכל בעטרות ובמגיני זהב ויחטאו את השערים ואת לשכות הכוהנים, וישימו את הדלתות.
(נו) ותהי שמחה גדולה בכל העם, כי גלל ה' את חרפת הגויים מעליהם.
(נז) ויצווה יהודה ואחיו וכל קהל ישראל לחוג את חנוכת המזבח ביום החמישה ועשרים לחדש כסלו שמונת ימים מדי שנה בשנה בהלל ובתודה לה'.
(54) And they celebrated the dedication of the altar for eight days, and brought up whole offerings, and thanksgiving offerings in the joy of their hearts.
(55) And they glorified the face of the sanctuary with crowns and shields of gold and purified the gates and the courts of the priests, and replaced the doors.
(56) And there was great rejoicing among all the people, because the Lord had rolled back the disgrace of the nations from upon them.
(57) And Yehudah, his brothers and all the community of Israel commanded to celebrate the dedication of the altar on the twenty-fifth day of month of Kislev, eight days each year, with praise and thanksgiving to the Lord.
The works of Flavius Josephus (Translated by. William Whiston. 1895.)
Now Judas celebrated the festival of the restoration of the sacrifices of the temple for eight days, and omitted no sort of pleasures thereon; but he feasted them upon very rich and splendid sacrifices; and he honored God, and delighted them by hymns and psalms. Nay, they were so very glad at the revival of their customs, when, after a long time of intermission, they unexpectedly had regained the freedom of their worship, that they made it a law for their posterity, that they should keep a festival, on account of the restoration of their temple worship, for eight days. And from that time to this we celebrate this festival, and call it Lights. I suppose the reason was because this liberty beyond our hopes appeared to us; and that thence was the name given to that festival.
At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon.
(ג) עַל שִׁשָּׁה חֳדָשִׁים הַשְּׁלוּחִין יוֹצְאִין, עַל נִיסָן מִפְּנֵי הַפֶּסַח, עַל אָב מִפְּנֵי הַתַּעֲנִית, עַל אֱלוּל מִפְּנֵי רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה, עַל תִּשְׁרֵי מִפְּנֵי תַקָּנַת הַמּוֹעֲדוֹת, עַל כִּסְלֵו מִפְּנֵי חֲנֻכָּה, וְעַל אֲדָר מִפְּנֵי הַפּוּרִים. וּכְשֶׁהָיָה בֵית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ קַיָּם, יוֹצְאִין אַף עַל אִיָּר מִפְּנֵי פֶסַח קָטָן:
(3) On six months messengers go out: On Nisan, because of Pesach; On Av, because of the fast; On Elul, because of Rosh Hashnanah; On Tishrei, to correct for the festivals; On Kislev, because of Chanukah; On Adar, because of Purim; And when the Temple existed, they also went out on Iyar, because of the little Pesach.
(ו) בַּחֲנֻכָּה, בַּנְּשִׂיאִים (שם ז). בְּפוּרִים, וַיָּבֹא עֲמָלֵק (שמות יז). בְּרָאשֵׁי חֳדָשִׁים, וּבְרָאשֵׁי חָדְשֵׁיכֶם (במדבר כח). בַּמַּעֲמָדוֹת, בְּמַעֲשֵׂה בְּרֵאשִׁית (בראשית א). בַּתַּעֲנִיּוֹת, בְּרָכוֹת וּקְלָלוֹת (ויקרא כו). אֵין מַפְסִיקִין בַּקְּלָלוֹת, אֶלָּא אֶחָד קוֹרֵא אֶת כֻּלָּן. בַּשֵּׁנִי וּבַחֲמִישִׁי וּבְשַׁבָּת בַּמִּנְחָה, קוֹרִין כְּסִדְרָן, וְאֵין עוֹלִין לָהֶם מִן הַחֶשְׁבּוֹן, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כג), וַיְדַבֵּר מֹשֶׁה אֶת מֹעֲדֵי יְיָ אֶל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, מִצְוָתָן שֶׁיְּהוּ קוֹרִין כָּל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד בִּזְמַנּוֹ:
(6) On Hanukkah, the section of the offerings of the princes (Num. 7) must be read;
Hanukkah in America: A History. Ashton, Dianne (2013). NYU Press. p. 42–46.
Throughout the nineteenth century some Jews tried various ways to adapt Judaism to American life. As they began looking for images to help understand and explain what a proper response to American Challenges might be, Hanukkah became ripe for reinvention. In Charleston, South Carolina, one group of Jews made Hanukkah into a time for serious religious reflexion that responded to their evangelical Protestant milieu...[Moise's] poem gave Hanukkah a place in the emerging religious style of American culture that was dominated by the language of individualism and personal conscience derived from both Protestantism and the Enlightenment. However, neither the Talmud nor the Shulchan Aruch identifies Hanukkah as a special occasion to ask for the forgiveness of sins.
The Gemara asks: What is Hanukkah, and why are lights kindled on Hanukkah? The Gemara answers: The Sages taught in Megillat Ta’anit: On the twenty-fifth of Kislev, the days of Hanukkah are eight. One may not eulogize on them and one may not fast on them. What is the reason? When the Greeks entered the Sanctuary they defiled all the oils that were in the Sanctuary by touching them. And when the Hasmonean monarchy overcame them and emerged victorious over them, they searched and found only one cruse of oil that was placed with the seal of the High Priest, undisturbed by the Greeks. And there was sufficient oil there to light the candelabrum for only one day. A miracle occurred and they lit the candelabrum from it eight days. The next year the Sages instituted those days and made them holidays with recitation of hallel and special thanksgiving in prayer and blessings.