Why I don't celebrate Hanukkah

Why I Don't Celebrate Hanukkah | Land of Honey

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Well, this is awkward.

I want to share with you why there are no dreidels nor latkes on my side of the internet at this time of year. But I also don't want to hurt feelings or cause arguments. I value each of you that takes the time to read Land of Honey and want to continue having good relationships with you guys. I've decided to share about this because I get questions and want to clear up any confusion. As always, thank you for your grace and kindness.

I don't celebrate Hanukkah. Okay I did, a couple of times. As someone who grew up celebrating Christmas there is a big void every December. It was easy to embrace Hanukkah as a beautiful and inspirational story of YHWH's provision, especially since it validated precious family time, special foods, and gifts at this time of year. And it certainly made the transition away from Christmas easier. I think the Maccabee story is stunning in so many ways. But I no longer celebrate it.

The realization came one day when someone asked why I don't celebrate Christmas. My answer was that I only celebrate the festivals of YHWH. They asked if I kept the other 'Jewish' holidays like Hanukkah and Purim. "Well yeah," I stumbled. "Since they are biblically based and all." I knew it had to stop.

That was the it moment for me. I am so tired of justifying why my life is different than how Scripture says it should be. Of making excuses for why I add to or take away from YHWH's instructions. Isn't that what I was doing with Christmas? That obviously has biblical tie ins. I have made too many changes to do this again in a different way.

But Hanukkah is the festival of lights and Yahusha is the light! This reasoning is one most in the Messianic movement use. The verses that speak of Yahusha being light are some the most beautiful passages in Scripture, in my opinion. We take them and apply it to the miracle of the oil miraculously burning for eight days. Who doesn't get goosebumps over the 'he is with us' symbolism? There's just a small problem here: while YHWH certainly could have caused one day's supply of oil to last for eight there is no record of that actually happening. Even if there were, I personally don't see how that would justify modifying the menorah as designed by YHWH.

Okay, but Yahusha celebrated Hanukkah. Did he? John 10:22 does say that he was at the Beit Hamikdash during Hanukkah but it doesn't say he was celebrating. One does not read John 10 and picture him manning the latke fryer. I doubt he made punch or lit a nine branch menorah. He definitely wouldn't have uttered the traditional Hanukkah blessing that describes this festival as a command of YHWH. In fact, he was such a buzz kill that the leaders of the Hanukkah party actually tried to stone him there.

If Yahusha wanted us to associate him with Hanukkah wouldn't that have been an excellent opportunity for his 'I am the light' speech? Instead--and this is what got him into trouble--he went with a simple phrase, "My sheep know my voice." In verse 26 he even goes as far to say those at the Hanukkah celebration don't trust him and aren't his sheep.

What's wrong with celebrating a miracle of YHWH though? Well, nothing, as long as we are doing it YHWH's way. And as beautiful and meaningful as Hanukkah celebrations can be, I'm not sure if that's his way. You see, many cultures have a 'Festival of Lights' at this time of year, including the Hindu celebration of Diwali and Persian/Babylonian festival of Chaharshanbe Suri, which has been around since at least 1700 BC. Can you think of another holiday in December that takes historic fact and spiritual significance and then mixes it with pagan tradition? How do you feel about that? Let us not forget that the enemy masquerades as an angel of light.

To clarify, here's a few things I am not saying:
The story of the Maccabees isn't true.
That the miracles YHWH performed at that time aren't amazing.
There aren't good intentions behind those that celebrate this.
I don't have friends I think highly of that celebrate Hanukkah.
Hanukkah can't be fun or special, or even have spiritual significance.
That I don't know the lyrics to the Maccabeats' Hanukkah songs.

For me it comes down to wanting my faith to be simple and approachable. I want the changes in my life to be based on Scripture and for others to be able to see that. I want to base my life around the things of YHWH and not add other things in, even if they are special and meaningful. I want to emphasize YHWH's set apart times more than manmade holidays.

This is why I have decided not to celebrate it. There are many people and ministries I think very well of that would disagree with me on this. As always, you should search out Scripture and pray about how YHWH would have you to live. 

If you do celebrate Hanukkah I would ask you to consider:

-Making it clear that this is not a commandment of YHWH. The traditional blessing of, "Blessed are you, Adonai our God, king of the universe, who sanctifies us with mitzvot, commanding us to kindle the Hanukkah lights" is a blatant lie. Don't teach that something is an instruction of YHWH when it is not.
-Treating it as a minor holiday. It's sad that Hanukkah is better represented in culture than the actual festivals of YHWH. Don't put more effort, time, or money into a manmade holiday than you do YHWH's.
-Using a seven branch menorah. Accurately represent YHWH's menorah to friends and family by using the dimensions he laid out.
-Exploring the historic facts around the Maccabean revolt. And asking some hard questions about the oil, the priesthood/kingship the Maccabees established, and historic facts about the beginning of Hanukkah. Did you know the Pharisees actually started as a protest against the Maccabees? There's a lot to learn here!


So there you have my thoughts on Hanukkah. I'll be sharing why I quit Christmas next week (I like to be as controversial as possible, I guess). I hope this clears up any confusion, but if you have questions feel free to let me know. How about you guys? Is anyone else there in the December holidayless camp? Shalom to you all.

15 comments:

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  2. Thank you for this article! Yes, I also celebrate no December holiday. Last year was my first to not do Christmas and I did celebrate Hanukkah even though I was wondering why. I knew the great story of the Maccabees but couldn't find any evidence of that being something we are called to celebrate. The candles & gifts & prayers calling it a commandment when it's clearly not made it just seem like swapping out one man–made tradition for another, so I'm not doing it this year. Thank you for putting this into words so well. I really enjoy your blog. Shalom!

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    1. Thank you Daphne! It's nice to hear I'm not alone in this. :) I hope you have a peaceful time through this season as it can be kind of tough/strange, especially the first few years. So encouraging to hear of others taking real steps to pursue truth. :)

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    2. Thanks for your response,Taylor, and sorry for the accidental double post! My first time actually commenting on any blog—I just deleted the extra one. Thanks again, and keep doing what you do!

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    3. Not a problem Daphne! Thank you for the kind words and please keep in touch!

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  3. Thank you for this article. My friend sent it to me today and it's pure gold.

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    1. Thank you so much for the encouragement Shelley! So nice to hear from people who feel similarly. :)

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  4. I agree. I also noticed I spent more time and money on it but in just one year it became obvious that like you. It is not commanded. The whole strange fire thing bugging me. And also its like adding and also the menorah was altered. Since my real goal was to please the Father by walking in His ways I also felt I might be walking in wrong direction again. So I'm going to celebrate the new moon and make that special and if I want to bless my kids with an honor or gift I do it at one of those times

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    1. It seems like this year especially people are going all out for Hanukkah. I would love to see this kind of enthusiasm for Passover and the other feasts! I agree that YHWH has given us plenty of opportunities for special times and gifts and parties if we choose. :)

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  5. Hi Taylor,

    I'm a Sabbath-keeping Christian who massively enjoys your blog. Thank you for this article. It certainly swayed me to not observe Hanukkah as a festival, as I can see no biblical backing for it. :) Hope you have a good December!

    Natalie Kendel
    https://nataliekendel.bandcamp.com/

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    1. Great to hear from you Natalie! Thank you for your kind words! Glad it was helpful to you! :)

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  6. Spot on! Love your blog - I feel so at home here. Thank you!

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    1. Thank you! That makes me so happy to hear! I want this to be a place where people feel like they belong. :)

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  7. So I am VERY new to Torah keeping. In fact, I am still studying God's Word on the matter and for now, I still call myself a Christian. 😊 We have recently begun to set the Sabbath apart in some way each week at home, although we still gather with other believers on Sunday (regular ol' church). Anyway, I have been studying The Feasts of God (Lev. 23) and I am so grateful for the ways God is revealing Truth to me. I am planning to celebrate His feasts this year! As far as Hanukkah goes....not adding that to my to-do list either. We still celebrate the Birth of our Lord in December (praying on this one, as I am not the sole/final decision-maker in my home!) and I totally did NOT want to pick up another man-made holiday, while trying to cleanse my life from the first one.
    And like you, I agree, this is not commanded of God, and the Bible doesn't say that Jesus was celebrating simply because He was at the temple. These 2 points have been the deciding factor for me.
    It is good to see that someone else who is Torah observant also feels the same way. I am really glad that I found your blog! It feels like an open and inviting space to learn more about the Truth found in the Word concerning His precious Law. Often times I've seen that Believers who are still learning and asking questions of those who are Torah observant are not always treated kindly or are treated as "how could you NOT know this?? Duh!" There is so much conflicting information out there, and my prayer is that the Father would keep me from the extra, the added, the traditions of men that aren't necessary to the Faith. So to come across your blog has been a blessing!!
    Thank you for letting be write a book in your comment section.😊

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    1. I'm excited for the journey you are on with celebrating the feasts this year! They are rich and meaningful and truly a blessing to be part of. I'm sure you will be glad you decided to celebrate them. :)
      Totally hear you about not wanting to pick up more man made stuff. I find leaving out the made up traditions and just sticking with the Leviticus 23 holidays is way more doable. Plus, it's less confusing to family and friends who see the change in your life. :)
      Thank you so much for your kind words Stacie! I really strive for this blog to be welcoming and approachable, no matter where you are on your journey. The arrogance in much of the Hebrew/Messianic movement is sickening to me and I'm so sorry if you've had a bad experience with that!
      Praying YHWH continues to speak his truth to you and your family! So glad you stopped by!

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