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There is a law that we may not make use of the light of the Chanukah candles for our own needs (Shulchan Aruch O. As a reminder of this law, parents would give their children coins on Chanukah, enabling them to observe the law of not counting them in front of the candles.
One thing which is clear from all the above reasons is that the Jewish custom is (and has always been) to give money, not presents.
Is it just a non-Jewish carryover, or are there Jewish sources for the practice?
Giving Chanukah gelt is a long-standing Jewish practice, one which most certainly predates the modern-day gift-giving season.
Where does the custom of "Chanukah gelt" (of giving money to children) come from?
My understanding is that the practice of giving presents is adapted from the non-Jewish holidays which occur in the same season.
Thus, when we pray, whether for ourselves or for others, it should be with the understanding that we are seeking justice. Second, if we extend ourselves by forgiving people who have offended us and acting with kindness toward them, then God's acting accordingly toward us can in itself be considered justice.
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The basis for it, however, is actually not that clear.