A Summarization of Chanukah Traditions


The holiday of Chanukah, or the Festival of Dedication, is full of many customs and traditions that give our celebration great life and depth. During this time of year, we have the awesome opportunity to commemorate the work of God from some 2,200 years ago during the time of the Maccabees. If they had not fought against the Seleucid invaders of Israel, the Jewish people would have either been destroyed through war, or would have disappeared via cultural assimilation. Chanukah, as attested in the historical record, was mandated as a national celebration so that the community could remember the sacrifice of the Maccabees, and the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem:

“Then Judas and his brothers and all the assembly of Israel determined that every year at that season the days of dedication of the altar should be observed with gladness and joy for eight days, beginning with the twenty-fifth day of the month of Chislev” (1 Maccabees 4:59).

We have the wonderful opportunity to join with our Jewish brothers and sisters, and celebrate in the historical triumphs that are given for us in the story of the Maccabees. There is much for us to celebrate during this time, as we remember how God inspired a rag-tag army to fight a vastly superior force, and never give up until the goal of victory was achieved. We are to remember how the Maccabees fought off the cultural assimilation that they faced, which required them to deny the Torah and its commandments. We are to remember how the Maccabees rededicated the Temple to the God of Israel, restoring the vessels of worship and sacrifices to their rightful places. And, we are also to remember how Antiochus Epiphanes, the Seleucid king who thought he was a god, was ultimately judged by the One True God he was trying to destroy.

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reproduced from the Messianic Winter Holiday Helper

The Winter holiday season is frequently a conflicted time of year for many people in today’s Messianic movement. On the one hand, most Messianic Believers do not celebrate the holiday of Christmas on December 25, due to some of its pre-Christian origins and questionable traditions. On the other hand, the birth of Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) is a Biblical event which we all must acknowledge in some way. Furthermore, during this same Winter season, the Jewish community commemorates the Festival of Dedication or Chanukah. What is a Messianic Believer to do?

The Messianic Winter Holiday Helper is a valuable compilation of resources designed to assist you, your family, and your Messianic fellowship for this season. We have included a selection of articles summarizing the holiday of Christmas, and how Messianic Believers need to have a proper attitude toward our Christian brothers and sisters. We have included a variety of teachings on Chanukah, common traditions associated with it, and how this can be a blessed time of spiritually rededicating ourselves to God and to each other. Information on the time period of the Maccabees in Second Century B.C.E. Judea, the wars that they fought, and the long term impact they left on subsequent generations, has been provided. A few FAQs on the Winter holidays are offered, as are some delicious recipes, and liturgy you can recite for your Chanukah celebration.

Do not let the Winter holiday season be a difficult time for you any more. The Messianic Winter Holiday Helper can assist you greatly in making this a very special time for you and your family!

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