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.


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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!

    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. :)

    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!

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

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

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

  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

    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. :)

  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

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