Often people ask if we celebrate Hanukkah, because they know we don’t celebrate Christmas, but do observe the Biblical feasts of YHVH. So, I thought I would share a little about our families view on Hanukkah. First, a quick reminder about our family. We do not celebrate the Catholic holidays like, Christmas, Easter, St Patrick’s Day, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, etc. But we do observe the days of YHVH mentioned throughout the Bible. You can find an easy outline of these days in Leviticus 23. They are Sabbath, Passover (Unleavened Bread), First Fruits, Shavuot (Pentecost), Yom Teruah (Day of Trumpets), Yom Kippur (day of Atonement), and Shavuot (feast of booths).
Tow commonly misunderstood Jewish holidays are Purim (which is in the book of Esther) and Hanukkah. These are not commanded Holy Days of YHVH in scripture. But these two days are mentioned in various ways in the scriptures, and many people do celebrate them. Briefly, I will mention Purim. Since the book of Esther is in the Bible and the feast of Purim is clearly mentioned, my husband enjoys recognizing this day of victory for YHVH’s people. We usually invite others to join us on this day and we eat fun festive foods, some dress up in costumes for fun, and we listen to my husband read us the whole book of Esther, in a fun, dramatic way. Purim is not a commanded feast, but to us it is an acceptable day to celebrate YHVH.
Now on to Hanukkah. The last few years our family has studied out Hanukkah in scripture and in history. We are simple people, and we prefer to read and understandthe scriptures in its most plain understanding. Hanukkah is mentioned in scripture, but is not as easily seen and understood in plain language. It is best understood as a day of history not so much a Biblical holiday. Yes, we recognize that the day of dedication is in the Torah , yes, we recognize that the victory of the Maccabees was foretold in the prophetic books of the Bible, and yes we even see that in the New Testament book of John there is mention of Hanukkah, the feast of Dedication (John 10:22). But we do not see in any of these passages of scripture that YHVH commands, or even that God’s people give clear instructions, on observing this day unto YHVH God. OF course, we realize there is no mention of the American Thanksgiving, nor national days of independence, in the Bible. Yet, we do enjoy celebrating these days with our family and friends. Because any day is a good day to celebrate YHVH, as long as we celebrate Him in His Way and not the way of the pagans or idol worshipers.
So, what is Hanukkah? And does our family see it as a day for celebration?
Hanukkah is very confusing. Because devote Jews, that follow the rabbinical teachings, celebrate this day as the Feast of Lights. This is a day to remember, according to them, a miracle that happened for 8 days, where a days supply of oil lasted eight days. This story has been told as fact for thousands of years, but there is no historical evidence or proof of this miracle happening. Also, in America and other western cultures, Hanukkah has turned into sort of a Jewish version of Christmas, with the focus being on family, food, and presents. This type of Hanukkah our family has no desire to celebrate.
But Hanukkah is actually a historical event that does have some cool miracles that really did happen. The story of Hanukkah is recorded in the Jewish historical documents called Maccabees 1 and 2. In these two books, you can read about how the Greeks had taken over Jerusalem and the Temple of YHVH. They made the people of God eat pork, they sacrificed pigs on the alter of YHVH, they desecrated God’s Holy city and Temple. But a small band of Jews hid out in the hills, and miraculously they came into the city and took it back rededicating the Temple to YHVH. When they took it back they celebrated for 8 days, in remembrance of the Sukkot they has missed, because of the Greek occupation. This was a great victory and a great time to celebrate YHVH.
there is a great deal of controversy surrounding this holiday. Jews and Christians all take issue with it. Some do not agree with the historical documents. Some think there are pagan roots to this holiday. Some take issue with the Menorah or Hanukkiah (the candle lamp of Hanukkah). Many take issue with the blessing the rabbis pray at this holiday. I am not going to site a bunch of sources here. But, instead, I will just explain our families decision on Hanukkah.
Many years ago, we decided that we wanted to be sure that in everything, we did and said, we made it clear that we are trying our best to be set apart unto YHVH for His Good Work. We realized this might look strange to outsiders, and we also realized that as we learned and grew, in understanding and wisdom, things we do may change. As we prayerfully studied and considered Hanukkah, we came to the conclusion that for our house we would not celebrate it as a feast. We would instead around the time of Hanukkah, read and remember the fulfillment of prophecy in the history of the Maccabees. So for our family, we do not light a Hanukkiah (or a Menorah). We have enjoyed studying and learning about the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. But we choose to not set the eight days aside each year as some do. Some may think we are being overly cautious, but for us we would rather error on the side of caution than to be accidentally disobedient.
We choose to continue to celebrate YHVH’s clearly stated feasts in His Word. If you wonder which on of these feasts in God’s Word would be most like a Christmas or Hanukkah. It is very easy, the eight days of Sukkot (the feast of Booths), is the time YHVH God set aside for us to celebrate the Messiah’s birth and life as a man, and His future return to establish His Kingdom. It is the perfect time to give HIM praise, honor and to show His love to each other and the poor. Sounds a lot like what many Christians do at Christmas time, doesn’t it? Sounds a lot like what Jews do at Hanukkah, too. So, instead of choosing to celebrate days that we are uncertain bring God honor and praise, we choose to go with the ones He clearly chose for us to celebrate.
No matter your choice, do all things to glorify the Father in Heaven. Amen