Eight Reasons To Celebrate Hanukkah

Eight Reasons To Celebrate Hanukkah

We are halfway into the festival of Hanukkah, also known as Chanukah, or the Feast of Dedication.  Our family has celebrated this feast for nearly twenty years and it is one of my favorite times of the year!

Here are eight reasons why I think Hanukkah ought to be acknowledged and celebrated:

  1. There is strong evidence that Yeshua (Jesus) probably celebrated it – in John 10:22-23, we read that it was during the feast of dedication (another name for Hanukkah), that Yeshua was in Jerusalem at the temple.
  2. Remembering the miracle that happened – legend has it that after the Maccabees and their army defeated the Greeks and reconquered Jerusalem, they cleansed the temple and only found one jar of oil that would only burn for one day.  It would have been eight days before new oil could be purified and prepared for the temple lamps and yet miraculously, supposedly, the one day’s supply lasted for eight days.  While it makes for a good story, it is worthwhile to note that this legend is not found in either book of the Maccabees.  One would think that such an amazing miracle would surely have been recorded, especially considering all the other historical accounts that were expounded upon.  So for our family, Hanukkah is not about one day’s supply of oil that lasted for eight days.  We don’t deny that it could have happened but we have not been convinced that this legend is fact.  But there is no denying that the historical accounts surrounding Hanukkah are miraculous.  The way that a small army of Jews defeated the well-trained Greeks who far outnumbered them, was an incredible feat that shows how YHWH really was fighting for them.
  3. The lights – in a world where darkness, death and destruction are so prevalent, Hanukkah is a festival of lights.  According to the legend, the Hanukkah menorah (Hanukkiah) has eight branches, one for each day of the feast, plus the shammas – the servant candle that lights all the rest.  Traditionally, the shammas is lit every night and and one candle is added each night – one on the first night, two on the second night, three on the third night and so on.  Since our family does not observe the supposed miracle of the oil, we often light all eight candles every night!  Yeshua said, “I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.” (John 12:46) and “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)  Hanukkah is a wonderful time to study all the Scriptures about light!
  4. No Temple, No Messiah – in Luke 2:22-39, we read the account of how Yeshua’s parents took him up to the Temple “to do for him after the custom of the law” … “to present him to the Lord; (as it is written in the law of the Lord, every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) and to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” (v. 22-24, 27)  Since Yeshua was the perfect Lamb, spotless and unblemished (1Peter 1:19), He had to fulfill all of the law (Torah).  If the Maccabees had not defeated the Greeks and rededicated the Temple to the service of YHWH, it would have been impossible for Yeshua’s parents to observe the commandments regarding His birth and dedication and thus He could not have fulfilled the Torah (Matthew 5:17).
  5. The inspiration found in the lives of those who lived during the time of the first Hanukkah – there are some amazing accounts of people who died for their faith and determination to not break YHWH’s laws.  I hope to share more about one of these heroines in a few days.
  6. Latkes and doughnuts – traditionally, fried foods are eaten at Hanukkah to commemorate the miracle of the oil.  And again, while the oil legend is not a focal point of our Hanukkah, we do enjoy the traditional foods 🙂  We also started a family tradition of going to eat at a Mexican restaurant on one of the nights, since much of their food is fried in oil!  And hey – there’s nothing wrong with oil!  In fact, there are many positive references to it throughout the Bible!
  7. Celebrating: righteousness conquers evil – it happens every time!  It may not happen in the timing that we expect or desire, but the good guys will always win in the end.  The story of the Maccabees is an inspiration in that they recognized the persecution of the Greeks was punishment for the sins of their nation. They repented and begged YHWH’s forgiveness.  They removed the sin from their lives first and then they removed it from their nation.  Through YHWH’s mercy, they experienced victory and deliverance.  Hanukkah is a good time to remember our deliverance from, and victory over, sin through the sacrifice of the Messiah.  This feast is a joyful time of celebration and commemoration of the way that the Heavenly Father takes care of His people.  Yes, there may be persecution, pain and difficulties – but good will always triumph.  “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)
  8. A good time to snuggle up and read Hanukkah stories 🙂 – many years ago, we found several books that we fell in love with and it is family tradition to read them each year during this time.  Our two favorites are The Chanukkah Guest and Latkes And Applesauce: A Hanukkah Story.  My younger siblings and I have enjoyed these timeless stories since I can barely remember.

Ima's Latke Recipe (Plus Eight Reasons To Celebrate Hanukkah!)

Does your family celebrate Hanukkah?  If so, what are some of your favorite things about this feast?

17 thoughts on “Eight Reasons To Celebrate Hanukkah

  1. I love Chanukah, too! It’s one of my favorite times of the year. In fact, we had a Chanukah party earlier tonight. Love Chanukah time!

    1. Ooo yes! Hanukkah parties are a lot of fun … only we haven’t had one this year 🙁 The families that we fellowship with are traveling to visit family for Thanksgiving so we’ve kind of been on our own this year!

  2. I love this idea! My best friend grew up in a Jewish home and is now a believer, and she says that celebrating the Jewish holidays really gives such a richness to her relationship with the Lord Jesus! I’d be thrilled to celebrate Hanukkah; my husband is not enthusiastic about it so I don’t push the idea but I do hope to share the meaning of it with my three daughters, so we can appreciate the mighty saving hand of our Father! And yes, the food 🙂

    You’ve got a beautiful and much-needed blog. I’m blessed to have found you today through the Modest Mom link-up 🙂

    1. Hi Lisha, thanks for stopping by! I agree with your friend … the Messiah, His life and His redemptive work really comes alive through the feasts! Hopefully I can share more about that in upcoming posts. I’m glad you found our blog and hope to see you again soon – I visited yours too briefly and hope to peruse when I have more time 🙂

  3. Thanks so much for sharing this, Hannah! Hanukkah is something we’ve gone back and forth about celebrating, not sure how big of a deal we should make it. This year we’ve enjoyed leaving off the gifts, instead focusing on rejoicing at what Yah did during the first Hanukkah, and is doing now. I can truly say I was sad to see it go, as it was a time of festivity and peace. This post encouraged me and helped me to see that there’s nothing wrong with embracing Hanukkah as a time of remembrance and joy. Thanks again!

    1. Our family used to have a tradition of giving gifts on Hanukkah … some weeks before Hanukkah, we would place all of us children’s names on pieces of paper in a hat, and each of us would then draw and get a gift for the person whose name we drew. It was all a secret and no one could know who got who! Then, since there are seven of us children, we would give our gifts each night of the week of Hanukkah (the last night was for giving gifts to the parents!). It was a neat tradition that we enjoyed but then we started feeling uncomfortable because the focus on gift-giving seemed to correspond too closely to Christmas. So, since the book of Esther instructs gift-giving at Purim time, we changed the tradition so that we all draw names at Hanukkah, but we give the gifts at Purim. We don’t have a problem if someone wants to get a gift for someone or everyone during Hanukkah, but we wanted to focus on YHWH’s miraculous deliverance, including the reasons why that deliverance was necessary (i.e. sin and idolatry), and how this pertains to our lives … instead of it becoming an eight day Christmas!

  4. Thank you so much fr taking the time to tell us what is most important about this time for you and your family! This year is my family’s very first year of celebrating this Feast so we are gleaning all that we can! Many blessing on this special time of the year!

    1. So exciting that this is your first year! There is so much to learn and so many aspects of the feast … after 20ish years, we’re still learning! 🙂

  5. Hey! Question! Do y’all celebrate the Passover????? I have to give an informative speech for my Oral Communications class next week (I think!?!?!? I *really* should check on that LOL) and within the criteria, I’ve chosen to give mine on the Passover 🙂 My dad got excited about it lol saying it would be really neat if I got up and gave a speech about a feast laid out by God, not man’s idea, but GOD’s. When I saw this post linked up at Modest Mom today, it hit me that if y’all celebrate Hannukkah, you might do other feasts as well, and I was wondering if you’d be willing to help me???? If not, that’s okay, but I thought I’d ask!
    🙂 Katie

    1. Hey Katie, sorry for the delay – we’ve had a really full week – hope to post about it soon – anyway … yes, we do celebrate Passover! I’m not sure if we can help or not but feel free to let me know 🙂

  6. Hi! I found your website by way of the Headcovering Movement website. I recently made my family potato pancakes and saw online that they are called latkes in the Jewish faith. What I found here at your site is that they were traditionally eaten at Hanukkah. I’m just wondering according to the O.T. feasts which one Hanukkah is?
    I especially like the thought that we would be eating a similar dish to what Jesus might have when he was here on earth 🙂
    Thankyou! Ruthie

    1. Hi Ruthie, thanks for stopping by! Hanukkah is not one of the commanded feasts in the Old Testament. In reading the historical account in the Apocrypha, we learn that the Jewish people could not observe the feast of Tabernacles because they were fighting the Greeks and did not have access to the Temple. Several months later when they had defeated the enemy and taken the Temple back, they decided to hold a celebration similar to the feast they had missed out on, and also to celebrate the victory they had won. Judah Maccabee then declared the observance of Hanukkah to commemorate what had taken place. So it wasn’t necessarily commanded by the Heavenly Father like some of the other feasts and some people believe it shouldn’t be observed because of this but, like I think I mentioned in this post, the New Testament scriptures seem to indicate that the Messiah kept it so that’s one of the reasons we love to do it!

  7. Thankyou, Hannah, for explaining that so thoroughly for me. I had heard of Hanukkah, but did not know the historical significance behind it. Because the Jews are God’s chosen people, I think it would be interesting to study out the feasts with my family. It would add a richness to our reading of the Scriptures. Does your family try to keep all the feasts? – Ruthie

    1. Yes, we do observe all of the Biblical feasts to the best of our ability. It is really a blessing! We actually believe that they are for all of God’s people, not just the Jews!

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