There is more to Chanukah than meets the eye. Everyone knows about Judah Maccabee and the jar of oil. But the more you look at the details of the story, the more they remind you of another festival – Sukkot. Indeed, it may be that since enemy persecution prevented the keeping of Sukkot during the Antiochus episode, Chanukah was in some ways a kind of postponed Sukkot.
Here are some of the links between the two festivals:
• Some sources say that the Maccabees celebrated the cleansing of the Temple with palm branches – a clear connection with Sukkot.
• Sukkot was marked by kindling lights for the Simchat Bet HaSho’evah, the festival of the water-drawing, and Chanukah is the festival of lights.
• On Sukkot a series of bulls was offered in the Temple in descending order (13, then 12, then 11 and so on): there is a view that the Chanukah lights should be kindled in descending order, though this is not the view that is followed.
• The first and last days of Sukkot are yom-tov; histories of Jewish customs record that in some places it was customary to refrain from work on the first and eighth days of Chanukah.