One of the major reasons Chanukah has become so centered around gifts is because of its proximity to Christmas. On the Jewish calendar, Chanukah is celebrated beginning on sundown on the 25th day of Kislev. This year it began on December 12th.
There has always been a tradition of giving, but in a different way than it is today. Gift-giving at Chanukah (one gift each night) is a relatively modern Jewish tradition, developed in response to the older tradition of gift-giving at Christmas. It is extremely unusual for Jews to give Chanukah gifts to anyone other than their own young children. The only traditional gift of the holiday is "gelt," (Yiddish for money) small amounts of money.
Instead of focusing on gifts, Jewish people prefer to focus on Israel’s victory, which Chanukah commemorates and as a reminder of God’s faithfulness to His people.
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