Dedication is the act of consecrating an altar, temple, church, or other sacred building. It also refers to the inscription of books or other artifacts when these are specifically addressed or presented to a particular person. This practice, which once was used to gain the patronage and support of the person so addressed, is now only a mark of affection or regard. In law, the word is used of the setting apart by a private owner of a road to public use.
The Feast of Dedication, today Hanukkah, once also called "Feast of the Maccabees," was a Jewish festival observed for eight days from the 25th of Kislev (usually in December, but occasionally late November, due to the lunisolar calendar). It was instituted in the year 165 B.C. by Judas Maccabeus, his brothers, and the elders of the congregation of Israel in commemoration of the reconsecration of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, and especially of the altar of burnt offerings, after they had been desecrated during the persecution under Antiochus Epiphanes (168 BC). The significant happenings of the festival were the illumination of houses and synagogues, a custom probably taken over from the Feast of Tabernacles, and the recitation of Psalm 30:1-12. According to the Second Book of Chronicles, the dedication of Solomon's Temple took place in the week before the Feast of Tabernacles. J. Wellhausen suggests that the feast was originally connected with the winter solstice, and only afterwards with the events narrated in Maccabees.
The Feast of Dedication is also mentioned in John 10:22, where the writer mentions Jesus being at the Jerusalem Temple during "the Feast of Dedication" and further notes "and it was winter". The Greek term used in John is "the renewals" (Greek , ta enkainia). Josephus refers to the festival in Greek simply as "lights."
A child dedication ceremony takes place in some Christian churches that practice adult baptism. The child is presented to the congregation, and vows are made to raise him or her in the Christian tradition (similar to an infant baptism ceremony), but the child is not baptised, as some churches only accept adult or 'believers' baptism.
Some denominations offer a dedication for a marriage or relationship. A service of dedication is used in the Church of England to bless a couple after a civil marriage. The Church of England's Diocese of Hereford "voted to support a motion calling on the House of Bishops to 'commend an Order of Prayer and Dedication after the registration of a civil partnership or a same sex marriage'." Individual Anglican congregations in England may already offer same-sex couples "a special service of prayer and dedication."