Wednesday, December 28, 2011

We will celebrate Hanukkah

     When I made my 101 List I thought that I wanted the use of a new Advent Calendar to be my new family tradition. I also considered a few other things but I came around to something totally different; possibly controversial. The purpose of my resolution to decide upon a new tradition and to develop it is to create something unique that my family does that will educate our future children and has meaning. After reading and great deliberation on John and my behalf, we have decided that our family will celebrate Hanukkah.

      In no way are we leaving our Christian faith or roots in the church. However, correct me if I am wrong, but did Jesus not celebrate Hanukkah? Do the Christians and Jewish faith not worship the same God? Christianity has it's roots in Hebraic tradition and our religion was born with the Jewish people.

     I am not ignorant nor naive enough to suggest that there is not a great divide that happened many centuries ago between the people of Judea and the Followers of Christ. I have simply made the decision that we will recognize and celebrate the holiday.

Hanakkah is what exactly?

       (Excuse the simplification) Hanukkah is also known as the Feast of Lights. Israel was under the rule of Alexander the Great but the Jews were allowed to continue with their religious practices and celebration of their holidays. Then after several generations, a localized ruler came into power (Antiochus IV) and began to oppress the Jewish people. This time period included the massacre of their people, prohibition of practicing their religion and the desecration of their Temple.

      A rebellion against the opressors came into fruition led by Mattathias and his son Judah Maccabee. The rebels were able to push the Syrian opressors out of their land. It came time to re-dedicate their temple; however, when it came time to light the Menorah, there was only one small jar of oil sealed by their High Priest available.  Miraculously, the oil burned for eight days until new oil could be brought in. 

     Since then, Jews have celebrated the victory over their oppressors and the Miracle of the lasting oil. The celebration lasts 8 days and on each night a new candle is lit on a special Menorah.

     God's provisions for His people was a miracle for them, and I believe His miracles should be celebrated always. If there was a holiday dedicated to the splitting of the loaves and fish - we would honor it as well. 

The 7 Biblical Celebrations
       When you look at the 7 different Biblical Celebrations, all a part of Jewish tradition you will find that they are all full of Messianic significance pointing to Christ.

Our Celebration

      We will still celebrate Christmas - and when the two holidays occur at the same time, Hanukkah will still have an important role in our household.  We will light a candle each night of Hanukkah remembering how God provided for His people in a time of need. Each night when we celebrate we will pray for the missionaries and people around the world. 

      For those who question how this will impact our future children, I answer that our children will understand the holiday and respect the importance of it to the Jewish belief and how the history is involved in our Christian Faith. 

     Since the celebration of Hanukkah will be about understanding and respect, I'm not sure if we will have gifts during the holiday or not. Possibly once we have children, but small things only. 

      I know many Christian families that do not include Santa Claus in their Christmas traditions, or they don't give gifts on Christmas (rather they choose Kings Day in January or Boxing Day on the 26th). Others choose not to include the Easter Bunny or eggs in Easter, or even yet call it Resurrection Day rather than Easter at all. Now I have learned of the many, many Christian homes who celebrate Passover and Hanukkah and various other Jewish celebrations 

While we don't have children, I believe we will probably keep the pagan rituals in our holiday celebrations but teach the true meaning of the Holiday. After all, none of these is a Biblical holiday or a Commandment from Christ - the purpose of all of these celebrations is to celebrate God. If your heart is in the right place you are celebrating the true meaning of the holiday.

Chanuka Sameach or Happy Hanukkah!

** Regarding marking this off my 101 list - while we have decided that this is what we will do, I will wait to mark it off the list until I have purchased a Menorah and we have actually celebrated the holiday. **

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