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Christmas vs. Hannukah — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman & Fiza Rafique — Published on February 9, 2024
Christmas is a Christian holiday celebrating Jesus Christ's birth, featuring traditions like gift-giving. Hanukkah, a Jewish festival, commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, marked by lighting menorah candles.
Christmas vs. Hannukah — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Christmas and Hannukah


Key Differences

Christmas is a Christian holiday celebrated on December 25th. Hanukkah is a Jewish festival lasting eight days, typically in December. Christmas commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, while Hanukkah celebrates the victory of the Maccabees and the miracle of the Temple oil.
Christmas traditionally involves decorating a Christmas tree, while Hanukkah features the lighting of the menorah, with one candle lit per night for eight nights. Christmas decorations often include lights and nativity scenes, whereas Hanukkah is known for its menorahs and dreidels.
Gift-giving is a central tradition in both Christmas and Hanukkah. Christmas presents are typically opened on Christmas day, while Hanukkah gifts may be given on each of the eight nights.
Christmas is celebrated with a variety of music and carols, whereas Hanukkah is known for songs like "Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel." The music of Christmas often reflects themes of joy and birth, while Hanukkah's music celebrates history and miracles.
Christmas includes a feast that often features dishes like turkey or ham. Hanukkah traditional foods are fried, such as latkes and sufganiyot. Christmas meals vary globally and focus on hearty dishes, while Hanukkah food traditionally involves fried items, commemorating the miracle of the oil in the Temple.

Comparison Chart

Part of Speech



Singular, refers to a specific holiday
Singular, refers to an eight-day festival

Common Usages

As a holiday, in phrases like 'Christmas Eve'
As a festival, in phrases like 'Hannukah gelt'

Adjective Form

Christmas-related, Christmassy
Hannukah-related, Hanukkah-themed


Christmas tree, Christmas gifts
Hannukah menorah, Hannukah candles

Compare with Definitions


Observed on December 25th, often involving decoration and festivities.
The city streets were illuminated with Christmas lights.


A Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem.
They celebrated Hannukah by lighting the menorah each evening.


Associated with specific customs like Santa Claus and caroling.
Children eagerly awaited Santa Claus's visit on Christmas Eve.


Lasts for eight nights, typically falling in December.
Hannukah this year begins on the twenty-fifth of Kislev.


A Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.
The family gathered around the Christmas tree to open presents.


Marked by lighting candles on a menorah, one additional candle each night.
On the first night of Hannukah, they lit one candle.


Traditionally includes the exchange of gifts and special meals.
They exchanged Christmas gifts on Christmas morning.


Often involves gift-giving, particularly to children.
They gave small gifts to their children each night of Hannukah.


Celebrated worldwide, often with religious and secular practices.
She enjoyed the Christmas market's festive atmosphere.


Includes traditions like playing with a dreidel and eating fried foods.
The children played dreidel games during Hannukah.


A Christian feast commemorating the birth of Jesus.


(Judaism) an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem in 165 BC


December 25, the day on which this feast is observed as a public holiday in many countries.




An annual church festival (December 25) and in some States a legal holiday, in memory of the birth of Christ, often celebrated by a particular church service, and also by special gifts, greetings, and hospitality.


Period extending from Dec. 24 to Jan. 6


A Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Christ; a quarter day in England, Wales, and Ireland


Spend Christmas;
We were christmassing in New York

Common Curiosities

What is Christmas?

Christmas is a Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ on December 25th.

How long does Hannukah last?

Hannukah lasts for eight days and nights.

Are gifts exchanged during Christmas?

Yes, gift-giving is a central part of Christmas celebrations.

What foods are traditionally eaten on Christmas?

Traditional Christmas foods vary but often include dishes like turkey, ham, and various desserts.

What are typical Christmas decorations?

Common Christmas decorations include Christmas trees, lights, wreaths, and nativity scenes.

What does Hannukah commemorate?

Hannukah commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and the miracle of the oil.

Do people give gifts during Hannukah?

Yes, it's common to give gifts, especially to children, during Hannukah.

What is a dreidel and its role in Hannukah?

A dreidel is a four-sided spinning top, played with during Hannukah as a game.

What is a menorah and its significance in Hannukah?

A menorah is a nine-branched candelabrum, lit during Hannukah; it symbolizes the miracle of the oil.

What are traditional Hannukah foods?

Traditional Hannukah foods are fried in oil, like latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly-filled doughnuts).

Who is Santa Claus in Christmas tradition?

Santa Claus is a mythical figure who delivers gifts to children on Christmas Eve.

Is Christmas a public holiday?

Yes, Christmas is a public holiday in many countries around the world.

Can non-Jews participate in Hannukah celebrations?

While a Jewish holiday, non-Jews can participate in Hannukah celebrations as a gesture of friendship and cultural exchange.

How is Hannukah different from Jewish Sabbath observance?

Hannukah is a festive holiday with specific rituals like lighting the menorah, while the Sabbath is a weekly day of rest and worship.

What's the significance of Christmas carols?

Christmas carols are traditional songs sung during the holiday season, celebrating the themes of Christmas.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.

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