Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

Also called the Feast of the Machabees and Feast of Lights ( Josephus and Talmudic writings), mentioned in the Old Testament ( 1 Maccabees 4:56 ), and in the New ( John 10:22 ). It was instituted by Judas Machabeus (164 B.C.) to be celebrated yearly on the 25th day of the month Kislew and during its octave, in commemoration of the purification of the temple of Jerusalem which had been polluted by Antiochus Epiphanes on that day three years previously ( 1 Maccabees 4:41-64 ; 2 Maccabees 6:2 ). Unlike the great Hebrew annual feasts, it could be celebrated not only in the temple at Jerusalem , but also in the synagogues of all places. It was observed with manifestations of joy such as accompanied the Feast of Tabernacles , during the celebration of which the dedication of the first temple had taken place. During the celebration of the feast mourning and fasting were not allowed to begin. The Jews assembled in the temple and synagogues bearing branches of trees and palms and singing psalms ; the Hallel (Psalms 113-118) being sung every day. The joyful character of the feast was also manifested by illuminations, which may have been suggested by the "lighting of the lamps of the candlestick " when the temple service was first restored ( 1 Maccabees 4:50-51 ), or, according to very early Midrashim, by the miraculous burning throughout the first celebration of the feast of a vial of oil found in the temple. Since the first century a general illumination of Hebrew houses has been customary, every house having at least one light, and some, according to the school of the rabbis, having one light for each person in the house on the first night and twice the number on each succeeding night; others again, having eight lights the first night and a lesser number each night thereafter. Modern Hebrews keep the feast on 12 December, with strictness, but do not forbid servile work. At the daily morning prayer a different portion of Numbers 7 is read in the Synagogue.


More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • LISTEN NOW: Benedictine nuns release new album
  • Daily Reading for Sunday, May 1st, 2016 HD Video
  • Daily Readings for Friday, April 29, 2016
  • 5 tips for Catholics to stay positive
  • St. Catherine of Siena: Saint of the Day for Friday, April 29, 2016
  • Why are these transparent wires being put up in cities around the world?
  • A Marriage Blessing Prayer HD Video

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 15:7-21
7 and after a long discussion, Peter stood up and addressed them. 'My ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 96:1-2, 2-3, 10
1 Sing a new song to Yahweh! Sing to Yahweh, all the earth!2 ... Read More

Gospel, John 15:9-11
9 I have loved you just as the Father has loved me. Remain in my ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 28th, 2016 Image

St. Peter Chanel
April 28: In St. Peter Chanel, Priest and Martyr (Feast day ... Read More