This year we are excited to be celebrating The Festival of Lights, or Hanukkah. When I say that we are celebrating Hanukkah this year, people are usually surprised and ask if I’ve converted to Judaism, or ask if we don’t believe that Jesus died for our sins. The truth is that we do believe that Jesus died for our sins, and fulfilled the law; But He did not come to make the Old Testament or all the miracles that were preformed by God before Him irrelevant.

Update 2020: This blog post is now a decade old (originally published Dec 1, 2010) and celebrating Hanukkah is one of our favorite family traditions that is going strong! We celebrate with homemade latkes at least one night, invite friends over to light the candles with us and play dreidel, and enjoy a relaxed meal. 

We enjoy celebrating the Old Testament holidays  because they are talked about directly in the Bible, making it easy to keep the focus where it really should be, on God.

Jesus, as a Jew, celebrated Hanukkah, and that is a good enough reason for our family to as well!  During the Festival of Lights, when Jesus declared Himself the light of the world on more than one occasion he literally brought light to the blind.  John 9:5-7

What does Hanukkah Celebrate?

Hanukkah means ‘dedication’ and it is an 8-day celebration that celebrates faith in God, the dedication of the holy temple in Jerusalem following the Jewish victory over the Syrian-Greeks.  The miracle of oil, which is what the Hanukkah Menorah represents, is described in A Family guide To The Biblical Holidays:

“When the Jews cleaned out the temple idols, they found only one small cruse of oil with only enough oil for one day to light their holy lamps.  They decided to light the menorah (the temple candelabra) even with the small amount of oil.  To everyone’s amazement, the menorah miraculously burned for eight days until new oil was available!”

How is Hanukkah Celebrated?

Hanukkah is celebrated by retelling the Hanukkah story, lighting the Menorah, and singing Hanukkah songs, playing the dreidel.  The festival does not traditionally have gifts associated with it, though there are many families who do give gifts, either one gift for each night of Hanukkah, or gifts on the first or last night.

We often invite another family to join us for one of the nights and cook potato and/or vegetable latkes and let their children light the candles.

Some items we use to celebrate Hanukkah in our home:

  • Our menorah is one of our decorations that is a favorite year after year. I couldn’t find the exact one we use, but this is similar.
  • Beeswax candles to light the menorah each night. We prefer Beeswax because it burns clean and is so pretty. Yes, you need 45! Each day you light the one in the middle, and then you use that one to light one more the first day, 2 more the second day, etc.
  • Wooden dreidel.  I have to look up the directions every year, and we use checkers pieces instead of traditional chocolate gold coins.  We buy extra dreidels and gift one to our friends that join us for Hanukkah.
  • Picture books that tell the Hanukkah story.

How Monica’s family Celebrates

Monica who sells wonderful hand made goat milk soaps at of Rose of Sharon Acres shares how her family celebrates the Festival of Lights

At our home, we decorate everywhere with white festive lights.  One of the names for this holiday is the Fesitval of Lights.  Yeshua (Jesus) is known as the Light of the World so we celebrate that.  The front yard dons tiki torches that stand out boldly as our outside hanukiah.  We stand as a family each night and use the ‘Servant Candle’ to light the others.  Inside the house, we read the Hanukkah story and discuss the price that disciples have paid to uphold and guard the ways of the Torah throughout time.  The story of Hanukkah shadows the forthcoming of the anti-Christ as one of the meanings of Antiochus Epiphanes is ‘God Manifest’ or ‘God Revealed’.  Knowing that history repeats itself, we feel it important to impart the truth of scripture and history.  After time reviewing the actual story and miraculous victory of Hanukkah, we go to the kitchen for latkes and festive foods and singing of Hanukkah songs.

Where Can I Learn More about Celebrating Hanukkah as a Christian?