Q.  Is it okay to observe Hanukkah?

A.  Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights, commemorates the liberation and rededication of the Temple in 165 BCE from the control of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Although a significant achievement, there is no Biblical command requiring us to observe this festival. The tradition for this eight day festival was handed down through the generations as part of Jewish heritage and culture. There is no evidence that this holiday originally had any pagan influence, although today's modern celebration is increasingly being syncretised with the "Christmas" season.

It should be noted that Yahshua walked into the temple area (Portico) during Hanukkah and spoke to the Jews (Jo 10:22-23 KJV). The context of this event does not indicate any new command was given to observe the festival. The reference to "The Feast of the Dedication" in this scripture simply notes that Yahshua Messiah went to the temple during this time of annual Jewish celebration, that had become a tradition after 165 BCE. One could also conclude that there was no condemnation of the tradition to celebrate this festival. The main message from Yahshua in John chapter 10, is that other sheep will be added to the flock (meaning Gentiles). This proclamation is actually contrary to the original purpose of the festival of Hanukkah, which celebrates the physical and spiritual separation of the Jew from their gentile enemies. Naturally, the Jews (Pharisees and Sadducees) didn't like this message.

Yahweh is clear however, and we are commanded to observe the 7 annual festivals (starting with the weekly Sabbath) referenced in Lev 23 and Deut 16. These Holy convocations (Feasts of Yahweh) include: The Days of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, Feast of Trumpets, Atonement and The Feast of Tabernacles, along with the Last Great Day. Hanukkah is no where mentioned in the Bible as a commanded assembly.

The most important consideration for "Followers of the way", is that our center of attention should be focused on our faith and salvation in the name of Yahshua. We can only be saved by grace through faith in Yahshua (Eph 2:6-8, Ro 3:24). Observing Hanukkah has zero salvation value. One would need to ask, what benefit does this eight day festival provide? Why not emphasize our spiritual investment in Yahweh's Sabbath and annual feast days. Notice the commanded feast days are called "My feasts" (IE. Yahweh's feasts) in Lev 23:2.

So, is it okay to observe (remember) Hanukkah?
---As a Holy Day or commanded assembly? No.
---As an ethnic based Jewish tradition/memorial to commemorate rededication of the Temple? Yes.
---As a substitute for a pagan holiday such as Christmas or Saturnalia? No.
---Is Hanukkah a commanded assembly or high Sabbath? No.
---Are there specific Feasts of Yahweh (commanded assemblies) that we are to observe? Yes. (more)

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