Why We Should Celebrate Chanukah


Chanukah is my favorite of all the holidays we get to celebrate as Messianic Believers. Why is it my favorite, you may ask? It does normally take place in December, which means it is in close proximity to my birthday. In December, I get to open a lot of presents! As a Messianic Bible teacher, Chanukah has the least amount of controversy associated with it, which means I get to relax (somewhat). We all know when Chanukah begins, the twenty-fifth of Chislev (2 Maccabees 1:18; 10:5), so there’s no dispute about when it takes place. The traditions associated with Chanukah are fairly straightforward: light your menorah for eight days, on Day 1 lighting one candle, Day 2 lighting two candles, etc. Be sure to eat fried foods like latkes or doughnuts, remembering the miracle of the oil remaining lit. Probably the biggest fight I’ve ever seen among people who celebrate Chanukah is over the menu! Not too bad if you ask me.

Believe me, as one who often has to moderate disputes among Messianics during either the Passover season, or the time period from Rosh HaShanah to SukkotChanukah is easy in comparison. But that does not mean that there are no questions that people ask. Generally speaking, I think those of us of the Jewish traditionalist camp in terms of Torah observance and halachah have often not explained ourselves as well as we should. (Please note that this does not mean that we are all “Orthodox.”) Because of this, there are some who scratch their heads and wonder whether we should really celebrate Chanukah. Isn’t this just “the Jewish Christmas”? While the traditionalist perspective has longevity, and brings a great deal of stability to the faithful, we do need to ask whether the custom of celebrating Chanukah passes the test of Philippians 4:8:

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”

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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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