Should Christians Celebrate Hanukah?

Preface

Romans 14:5,6 says: One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord.

John 4: 23,24 says: 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."

I present this hub for consideration in your own mind, and with the prayer that I am doing so in spirit and in truth.

Most Christian scholars don’t think Jesus was actually born on December 25. And yet, this is the time we spend focusing on the story of His Birth. And I think it’s entirely appropriate. Here's why.

So, I Wondered, What is Hanukah?

When I was a kid, Hanukah was “something the Jewish kids did while the Christian Kids do Christmas.” They had these cool candelabras and these tops, and got presents for eight days in a row.

As an adult, I became friends with a group of Christians who are called “Messianic Believers”. Some of these believers are ethnically Jewish, but in our community, most are not. Essentially, these people taught me the importance of the influence of Jewish culture and tradition on the writings of the New Testament. They celebrated Hanukah, and I’m sure some of the things they said to me have influenced this hub, but I’m not an active member of that community and their views are not necessarily reflected in this hub.

I was on extended assignment far from home one year and became friends with an observant Jewish man. One of the most profound Christian experiences I’ve had was a Passover meal with his family.

So that made me think ... what about Hanukah , this “festival of lights”?

As I see the season developing around me, and I see the lights on the trees and lights on houses and lights on just about everything, I couldn’t help but wonder about this “Festival of Lights”.

Image of Zeus
Image of Zeus

The Hanukah Story

In 180 BC Antiochus IV Epiphanes, a Greek King began what might best be described as a holocaust. He massacred Jewish people, he forbade their religious practices and looted the Temple. In 167 BC he erected an altar to Zeus in the Temple of the Lord and sacrificed pigs there.

Judah Maccabe (Judah The Hammer) became the leader of a military rebellion against Antiochus. In 165 BC the Jewish revolt against Antiochus was successful.

After Judah Maccabe drove the occupiers from the Temple, they went in to take down the pagan statues and restore the Temple. During this time, they discovered that most of the ritual items had been polluted by the pagans. They needed ritually purified olive oil to light a Menorah to rededicate the Temple.

They found only enough oil for a one day. They lit this, and began sanctifying new oil. Miraculously, that small amount of oil burned until the new oil could be pressed, eight days. This is why Jews light a candle each night of the festival.

The Second Jewish Temple. Model in the Israel Museum
The Second Jewish Temple. Model in the Israel Museum
Birth of Christ with Angels - Pedro de Berruguete.
Birth of Christ with Angels - Pedro de Berruguete.

Christians, Christmas and Hanukah

So what has this to do with Christians and specifically is it really spiritually related to Christmas?

First of all, I want to say to my Jewish friends, that I believe that Christianity is a logical extension of Judaism and that I have utmost respect for what I consider our shared history.

I have three different reasons that perhaps Christians should consider the celebration of Hanukah …

First of all Jesus was Jewish and there is no doubt whatsoever than during this season, He celebrated Hanukah, for that reason alone, as “imitators of Christ’ it may be appropriate for some Christians to celebrate Hanukah.

But spiritually, I have another thought or two.

According to 1 Corinthians 6:19, the Temple, is symbolic or our own body. Jesus is the light of the world (John 12:46). Evil kings who have dominated the Jews from Pharaoh to Nebuchadnezzar have been considered symbols of satan in many Christian traditions. Perhaps Antiochus is symbolic of satan as well.

Allow me to suggest that the events of 167 BC may be considered prophetic symbols of the coming of Jesus. The Temple (our bodies) polluted by Antiochus (satan) is to be resanctified and rededicated to God. God miraculously provided the Light (Jesus) to complete this rededication. Call it spiritual speculation.

My favorite reason, though, for celebrating Hanukah, at least in my heart, is a little less obscure. The Temple is a major scene for many of the major events of the coming of Christ. In Luke 1, the announcement birth of Jesus is preceded by the announcement of the birth of John the Baptist to Zacharias. Where did this occur?

In the Temple.

When the baby Jesus (our primary symbol of Christmas) is to be officially declared by a prophet Simeon to be Messiah, and prophesied Mary’s pain (Luke 2:25-24), where did this occur?

In the Temple.

When the aged prophetess Anna declared the baby Jesus to be the redeemer of Israel, where did this occur? (Luke 2:36-38)

In the Temple.

When the Child Jesus first revealed his knowledge and Wisdom of His Father, where did this occur? (Luke 2:41-49)

In the Temple.

The Temple is an important part of the Christmas story, that is the presentation of Jesus as a Child to the world. The manger was the place of His birth. The Temple was the place of His presentation.

God empowered Judah Maccabe to cleanse and rededicated the Temple so it would be ready for the presentation of His Infant Son.

Maybe, just maybe, it pleases God to see the celebration of the cleansing of the Temple occur so closely to the celebration of the Birth of His Son.

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Comments 47 comments

t.keeley profile image

t.keeley 7 years ago from Seattle, WA

A worthy question here mate,

What makes a jew 'messianic'? Aren't they just Christians then? I mean, Paul didn't go around flaunting a 'messianic jew' title did he? I'm sorry, but it annoys me, because then we're treating them as something special when in essence they are simply Christians as we are, not a special sect. The new covenant covers ALL of abraham's spiritual children, and jews are never mentioned as a special order.

In the end, I feel chanukah is a lovely ritual, better than our pagan induced pseudo-christian Christmas...I mean, I'm not anti-pagan, but the holiday isn't religious for me at all. I refuse to equate ONE day to celebrate Christ.


BDazzler profile image

BDazzler 7 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA Author

Notice I called them "messianic believers" which is how they identified themselves. There were a few other things I didn't agree with, so I chose not to offically associate with them for the long term. But, they did help me take a new look at the OT.

I think the term "pagan induced pseudo-christian Christmas" may be overstating the case a bit, at least in my experience. In my home, it was a celebration first and foremost of the event of Jesus birth, then as a time to spend with each other. It was great and I loved it.


t.keeley profile image

t.keeley 7 years ago from Seattle, WA

O, I'm not accusing you man. I was actually ust sort of venting frustration with the whole "we're jews and believe in jesus, which makes us special because one verse [to the jew first, then also to the greek] means what we want it to mean...that we're special." I disagree with it entirely and think that if they're that fond of their jewish roots, stay in Judaism and still be special, you know?

I loved Christmas too....bu the more I study of it the less I'm actually inclined to practice it as a religious holiday. At least Easter has, in my opinion, biblical merit as it is the honouring of the death/resurrection. I think we do that each week in holy communion though, which sort of makes the holiday a moot point again...just my opinion though.


BDazzler profile image

BDazzler 7 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA Author

Yeah, there was some of that there ... it bothered me.

Easter, I think should be celebrated with a full passover meal, especially after my passover experience.

I believe "which day and how" is largely a matter personal convition, (see that Romans 14 verse I started with.) Honestly, I don't do much for Chisamas, but it's because I don't have my own family. I visit extened family. That's about it.


t.keeley profile image

t.keeley 7 years ago from Seattle, WA

I agree. The passover is something much overlooked in Christian circles. The new covenant doesn't overthrow the old ones, it merely expounds upon each of them further. :)


BDazzler profile image

BDazzler 7 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA Author

Interestingly enough, that was the primary doctrine within that community :)


t.keeley profile image

t.keeley 7 years ago from Seattle, WA

Except that they assume that Jews were not replaced by Christians under the new covenant. It's a twsited doctrine, where they want themselves to be viewed as the primary inheritors of the covenant when Christ Himself commanded that the gentiles were now the inheritors of that covenant.


BDazzler profile image

BDazzler 7 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA Author

That was not 100% true in the local community, but I saw that tendancy.


RGraf profile image

RGraf 7 years ago from Wisconsin

I think that unfortunantly Christians began to "throw the baby out with the bathwater" when it came to many rituals. Are we required to observe the older Jewish holidays? No. Should we learn about them and respect them? Yes. Should we consider the importance of them in our lives and if we should follow them? Yes. I spent one Easter where a Messianic Jew came to our church and led us through a traditional Passover meal. It meant so much to me. I would love to make that a part of my Christian walk and family tradition. Too many forget the OT and only focus on the NT. As was stated above, the new law did not come to replace the old, only to fulfill it.

Very good piece, BDazzler.


Lgali profile image

Lgali 7 years ago

it depends upon each person belief


BDazzler profile image

BDazzler 7 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA Author

Thanks RGraf, you are very insightful! I think we're going to do a full passover with a small group from our church this year. There's a lot of interest in it. One of the things I truly appreciate about our Jewish friends is how well they have maintained their cultural idenity in spite of massive efforts to destroy them. There's a lesson about God's greatness in there, that I'm only beginning to grasp.

Yes, LGali, that is consistent with Romans 14:5,6, thanks for commenting.


allshookup profile image

allshookup 7 years ago from The South, United States

My family, as Christians, celebrate Jesus' birthday. But, we have friends who are Jewish. We both respect what the other believes. Not one word has ever been said negative by any of our families. I'm not a card sender, I'd rather phone her. I call her and see what all gifts she gets everyday they celebrate and she sends me a Christams card. Yes, it says Christmas on it. We love and respect each other. For us, it's that simple.


BDazzler profile image

BDazzler 7 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA Author

Excellent points ASU!


allshookup profile image

allshookup 7 years ago from The South, United States

Ty :) The friends that we are closest to that are Jewish live in New Jersey. That's a long way from Mississippi :( But, I got an email yesterday that said she is trying to plan a business trip to Memphis, so I'm sooo excited because I'll drive there and see her!!! Her hubby and kids wont be coming this trip, but at least I'll get to see her. She and I have been such good friends for since we've known each other. Which is 12 years now. She's like a sister to me. But we don't look like it. Shes 4-11 and has olive colored skin, I'm 5-9 and pale as a sheet. But, we are connected at the heart. She emails me every redneck joke she can find. Well, cause I am I guess lol. She has me call her mother on holidays and talk to her because her mother is amused with my accent lol. It's a relationship I am very thankful to have. I feel honored and blessed to call them my friends. Good hub.


BDazzler profile image

BDazzler 7 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA Author

Hey ASU! Altough I'm not "from" here, I live in Alabama, my friends here have named me an "honarary redneck" and "Southerner at Heart".

Your comment reminds me of the reality of Galations 3:7-9!


allshookup profile image

allshookup 7 years ago from The South, United States

Thanks, I'll take that as a compliment. Careful, people on here might think I'm a nice person with a heart! LOL


BDazzler profile image

BDazzler 7 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA Author

LOL ... it was intended to be!


Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 7 years ago

GREAT Hub BDazzler!!

Thank you for sharing!! I applaude any and all attempts to open a constructive dialog regarding subjects that seem to often divide us!!

My dearest friend is a Christian Minister!! We both honor and respect ALL the sacred traditions in the world!! They are all much more alike than different!!

There is a new movement to create a Charter of Compassion!! See link:

http://charterforcompassion.com

It is one of the most inspirational videos I've ever seen!! It calls for ALL of us in the world, no matter what our belief system, to help WRITE a charter of compassion!!

I am writing a Hub on it right now!! Perfect timing!!

Thanks again for sharing!!

Blessings always, Earth Angel!!


BDazzler profile image

BDazzler 7 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA Author

Thank you for your comments EA. I do my best to honor Jesus in all of my dealings with all of His creation. It does seem inconsistent to know that He loves the whole world, yet fail to recoginze the value he places on each individual.

I hope this Hub has honored Him.


b4u2c profile image

b4u2c 7 years ago from The Kingdom of God's Dear Son

Amen B. And I believe it does honor Him. We HAVE the Freedom, Liberty, Independence, Autonomy and Emancipation. The God-given Right and the Authorization from God Almighty to have the Expression of grace manifested in our lives to function in the One Body of Christ as God inspires us to do so. And if that means Light the Menorah Candles and give consideration to the meaning I say go for it!


BDazzler profile image

BDazzler 7 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA Author

thanks again b4!


countrywomen profile image

countrywomen 7 years ago from Washington, USA

Bdazzler- Celebration can be(or should be) done by anyone. I guess one doesn't have to be a christian to celebrate Hanukah or Christmas or any other festivals. Good hub.


BDazzler profile image

BDazzler 7 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA Author

Thanks for stopping by CW ... I always appreciate your thoughts and comments!


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Hi BDazzler, I find this interesting. I don't meet a lot of Jewish people (actually none at all :-) so I am not exposed to their ways of celebration. :-) Hmmm...I don't mind being invited and joining one to see how it goes. LOL


BDazzler profile image

BDazzler 7 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA Author

Hi ripplemaker! It might be fun to look up their traditions on the web, and celebrate it personally!

Thanks so much for stopping by, been prayin' for ya!


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Hi BDazzler, that's a great idea...if I can find the time amidst the Christmas rush. LOL But I love the prayers...as always I am thankful. :)


SirDent 7 years ago

A very extensive study. I enjoyed reading it. Will have to ponder a few things before I can agree with it totally. I will say it is something I never really thought about before.


BDazzler profile image

BDazzler 7 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA Author

Thanks SirDent!


SirDent 7 years ago

Been pondering on this for a while. The outward signs of worship must stem from the inside. The whole purpose of Jesus coming and dying on the cross and being resurrected was to change the inward man.

The Jews, for the most part, were not changed inwardly. They had a lot of outwards signs, but were empty and dead inside.

What I am trying to say is this, celebrate Hanuka if you wish. I see nothing wrong with it. But a person should make sure they are right with God first. The inward man must have been changed from the old sinful man, to the spiritual man.

I hope you understand what I'm trying to say.


BDazzler profile image

BDazzler 7 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA Author

Yes, I think what you are saying what Jesus told the woman at the well, "..worship in Spirit and in Truth ..."


SirDent 7 years ago

Exactly. Why is it sometimes something so simple seems to be so far away. :P


BDazzler profile image

BDazzler 7 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA Author

LOL!


Robin Layne profile image

Robin Layne 7 years ago from Oregon

Nice Hub. I haven't seen many sources that mention Jesus celebrating Hannekah or met many Christians interested in that holiday. I am used to celebrating Christmas and wouldn't know how to do Hannekah on my own. I know that many Christmas traditions may not have much to do with Jesus or may not seem to. Because of a lack of enthusiasm and room and money, we no longer get a tree, but I always bring out the manger scene and put the presents near it. We also have a birthday cake for Jesus, sing happy birthday to him, and blow out the candles together, honoring Christ within.(By the way, a manger is a feed trough, not a building. He was laid in it for his cradle, not born in it. This is a common mistake which has even crept into some Christmas carols.)

I have celebrated Passover before and it was wonderful. Would love to do it every year if I could find someplace to celebrate it as a group.


BDazzler profile image

BDazzler 7 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA Author

Great comments, thanks for stopping by Robin!


Dave Mathews profile image

Dave Mathews 6 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

BDazzler, since I am a Christian, which in essence means I follow CHRIST-JESUS and His teachings, in esscence I too am JEWISH, although I'd probably be considered a GENTILE-CHRISTIAN.

Thinking back over the part where you mentioned that the Jewish kids as you grew up would get 8 different days with presents, possibly from various relatives, I am a bit envious, as I was lucky to get one or two.Hmmmmmmmmm? 8, wouldn't that have been nice.

My main point though is even though I call myself a Christian/Catholic, I am Jewish too. I mean if you really think about it for a moment, as Christians, which means that we believe in The Holy Bible and its teachings as being from God, that would make us all related to Adam and Eve.

Brother Dave.


BDazzler profile image

BDazzler 6 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA Author

Excellent points Brother Dave! Thanks!


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa

A very interesting Hub and a good point about Hanukkah. I find Christmas with the commercial hype surrounding it quite depressing so looking at the season with a different emphasis seems like a good idea.

Love and peace

Tony


BDazzler profile image

BDazzler 6 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA Author

Yes, Tony, in our family, Christmas was about sharing with each other, but over time it has gotten overly commercial. My Jewish friend called me the day Brother Dave made his comment ... we hadn't connected in a long time, but it was good to catch up with him.


Cathi Sutton profile image

Cathi Sutton 6 years ago

Interesting hub. But Jesus himself said, "do this in remembrance of me", durning the Passover meal. I have never found a scripture telling us to celebrate the birth of Jesus, or the date of his birth. Yet what Christian congergation celebrates Passover? Most celebrate Easter instead, with all the fertility symbols and rituals, that originated for the "goddess" Ishtar. So many, many "christian" holidays are preverted versions of pagan, or Jewish holidays.

As far as Hanukah... I don't know if christians should celebrate it or not. Did God command it like He did Passover? Did Jesus re-command it like he did Passover?

I have recently been researching Jewish holidays, and have decided to celebrate the feast of Pentecost this year for the first time ever. It was a yearly celebration, commanded by God, and comes 50 days after Passover.

I enjoyed this Hub. Thanks for writing it!


BDazzler profile image

BDazzler 6 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA Author

Thank you Cathy! When I had passover with the Jewish family, the remembrance of what Jesus did overwhelmed me. The story of the last supper was made to live in a way I had never before seen or experienced.

The story of Esther does show that God does approve of holidays created to remember great events.

I do believe that it would behoove us Christians to pay more attention to the feasts God commanded.


breathe2travel profile image

breathe2travel 6 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA

I find it interesting that Jesus commanded us to remember His death and resurrection -- and yet the Body of Christ tends to elevate His birth. I am not de-valuing His birth by any means. However -- Biblically speaking -- the "Saviour & Lord" of Christendom gives one direction, and His followers seem to embrace the opposite. Although, in recent years, I have noticed a trend towards celebrating "Resurrection Day" with more fervor. Good hub.


BDazzler profile image

BDazzler 6 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA Author

Thanks Breathe! Yes, we have a tendency to do right in our own eyes.


IgnitedforChrist 5 years ago

I found this to be very informative, I am in a bit of a unique situation as I am a Christian but I am of Jewish Heritage, that is to say, my grandmother was of Hebrew decent and even spent some time studying under a Jewish Rabbi, the thought of celebrating something like Hanukah, to me, seems like a natural extension, my heritage is something I have recently been discovering over the past few years but I feel God leading to me to explore it and celebrate the holidays, of course I still do christmas as well


BDazzler profile image

BDazzler 5 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA Author

Hi Ignited!

Yes, it seems so for me as well. I've recently been reading the biography of Bonhoeffer, it seems that a very non-Christian anti-Semitic sentiment put up some artificial barriers in the 20th century.

I think you are in a unique position to be a testimony to God's continuing covenant with all His people. Blessings my friend!


G.L.A. profile image

G.L.A. 5 years ago from Arizona

Another good one! ..very thought provoking. Thanks!


Cassie 4 years ago

As I understand Christmas was taken from a Roman holiday in witch noblemen drank large amounts of wine, gave gifts, had sex with other men, and beet women, sometimes killing them, how that came to be Christmas I will never know.


BDazzler profile image

BDazzler 4 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA Author

The phrase "Christmas" comes from "Christ Mass", in other words a mass to celebrate Christ. It happened to fall near the winter solstice. Holidays around solstice and equinox times are common through many cultures. Different cultures had different traditions. Christmas replaced this it did not evolve from it.

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