Hanukkah is a Hebrew word meaning “dedication.” The holiday commemorates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem by Judah Maccabee following the expulsion of the Seleucid Syrians under Antiochus Epiphanes in 165 B.C. The full account of the story can be found in Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews, Book XII, chapters 5-11.
Hanukkah is a Jewish national feast of rejoicing. We read that Jesus was present at the festival of Dedication (since he was a physical Jew) in John 10:22. We learn from Christ’s example that acknowledging national holidays not emanating from paganism (such as the American Thanksgiving Day) is not wrong and does not violate God’s higher Law.
Many have noticed that Hanukkah customs are similar to Christmas, because many Jews, especially in the United States and Canada, have adopted Christmas customs and attached them to the celebration of Hanukkah. This is a fact that many Jews themselves regret.