Long before Judaism and Christianity entered the world, ancient peoples celebrated the waning of the sun as winter deepened by creating celebrations of light and ceremonies to encourage the sun to return. Jews and Christians took this spirit of hopefulness and applied it to social, economic, and political contexts.
Chanukah originated to celebrate the victory of a small group of people in Judea who rose up to overthrow the power of the Seleucid empire (one of the remnants of Alexander the Great’s Greek empire).
Christmas originated to celebrate the vision of a small infant born in the most modest and powerless of circumstances — an infant who was to bring tidings of peace and the triumph of the powerless, who were suffering under the rule of the arrogant Roman empire that dominated Judea at that time.
Sadly for humanity, the revolutionary visions behind these two holidays did not translate...