Hanukkah (a Hebrew word meaning “the Feast of Dedication” and also known as the Festival of Lights) is a minor holiday in Judaism and is only mentioned once in the Scriptures (John 10:22). It is the memorial of the cleansing of the temple in Jerusalem after the pagan Greeks had defiled it with idols. There is no scriptural command to celebrate it. There is no indication that Yeshua or the early disciples celebrated it, although John in his Gospel mentions that Yeshua happened be at the temple during this holiday. Nevertheless, Hanukkah as great positive spiritual ramifications.
Although Hanukkah and Christmas occur in the same month, they are totally different from each other. Hanukkah is not a replacement for Christmas for those who have discovered the pagan origins and unbiblical nature of Christmas. Here are several ways how these two holidays differ.
- Hanukkah is about staying pure from and resisting unbiblical pagan practices and defilement. The Catholic Church invented Christmas as a blend of biblical and pagan themes as an evangelistic tool to woo the pagans into Christianity. This is not how the Bible teaches that evangelism should be done! The gospel is to be preached and the pagans are to repent of their sin. The saints aren’t to become like the pagan sinners to win them to Messiah. Hanukkah, on the other hand, was intended to keep YHVH’s people separated from paganism, so they could remain true to biblical truth.
- Hanukkah celebrated the cleansing of the temple from the defilement of pagan practices. Christmas involves bringing pagan defilement into the church. It is the corrupting of the church. Hanukkah was about purifying the temple of Elohim. The Bible teaches that the saint are now YHVH’s spiritual temple and we are to keep our temple pure and undefiled from the corruption of the world (1 Cor 2:16–17).
- Hanukkah is mentioned in the Bible (John 10:22); Christmas is not. It is true that the birth of Yeshua is well documented in the Gospels, but there is no command to celebrate his birthday. Instead, YHVH gave his saints the weekly Sabbath and seven biblical festivals to celebrate (see Lev 23). Christmas is not one of these commanded biblical holidays. To observe Christmas and to not observe the Sabbath and biblical feasts, which YHVH commands is people to do is, by biblical definition, sin, for sin is the violation of the laws or commandments of Elohim (1 John 3:4).
- Hanukkah was birthed out of spiritual revival (rejection of unbiblical pagan practices). Christmas was born out of spiritual apostasy (becoming like the pagans to “win them to Christ”).
- Originally Hanukkah didn’t involve giving gifts. This is a recent tradition to compete with the popularity of Christmas.
- Originally Hanukkah didn’t involve putting up Christmas-like lights. This too is a recent tradition to compete the popularity of Christmas and has nothing to do with theme of Hanukkah. At Hanukkah, one lights the hanukkiah or eight-branched candelabra only in honor of the temple’s menorah. The Christmas tradition of putting up lights goes back to the ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia where the pagans lit candles in honor of their demonic sun god. This has nothing to do with Yeshua, and everything to do with paganism.
- Hanukkah doesn’t have the blatant ancient pagan sex worship symbols that Christmas has (the Christmas tree, the red ball-shaped Christmas tree ornaments, wreath, mistletoe, holly, Christmas lights, giving gifts et al), which come from the pagan demon-worship rituals of the Druids, the Scandinavians, and Germans, the Romans, the Greeks, the Babylonians, the Canaanites and the Egyptians.
- Hanukkah never involved putting up a tree or a bush and decorating it with lights as Christmas does. The Christmas tree tradition is purely pagan in origination and has nothing to do with the Bible, except for the fact that the Bible identifies this practice as rooted in ancient pagan customs that YHVH’s people are NOT to do (Jer 10:1–5).
- Hanukkah is about the survival of a small remnant of Jewish people desiring to remain true to their biblical faith against overwhelming odds. Christmas came about through compromising biblical truth in an attempt to come up with a way to placate the heathen masses who couldn’t let go of their idolatrous and unbiblical traditions. Hanukkah commemorates how the Jews were trying to keep the flame of truth alive against all odds, while Christmas is about diluting and profaning the truth of Yeshua’s birth with pagan customs, and then moving the time of his birth from the fall to the time of the winter solstice when the heathens were honoring their demonic sun deity.
- At Hanukkah, children and adults play the dreidel game, which was how the Jews surreptitiously studied the Torah (the Law of Moses) when the heathens ruling over their land forbad it. The Torah teaches us about the YHVH’s seven biblical feasts. Christmas (and the other non-biblical Christian holidays) is religion’s attempt to draw people away from the Word of Elohim and replace it with man-made, pagan-based traditions that make the Word of Elohim of none-effect. This is something that Yeshua condemned (Mark 7:8–9; Matt 15:6).
- Hanukkah is a minor Jewish holiday, while Christmas is the major Christian holiday of the year. The holidays that the Bible considers to be major, which YHVH commands his people to celebrate are the weekly Sabbath, Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, the Day of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, the Feast of Tabernacles and the Eighth Day.
- Christians have two major (non-biblical) holidays they celebrate each year: Christmas and Easter. Those who follow the Bible celebrate seven major holidays or festivals as listed in Leviticus 23, and Hanukkah isn’t one of them. Clearly the Bible has more to offer in terms of exciting holidays and spiritually significant and meaningful celebrations than does mainstream Christianity with its non-biblical, man-made and pagan-based holiday traditions. Besides, the seven biblical holidays depict the seven steps one must take to obtain the free gift of immortality. Wow! No pagan-based Christian holidays can beat this!
- In a certain sense, Hanukkah trumps Christmas, since without Hanukkah there would be no Christmas. How is this? Hanukkah celebrates the victory and preservation of the Jewish people in the land of Israel over their pagan Greek rulers who were trying to exterminate not only them, but their biblical based religion along with YHVH’s Torah. If it had not been for this remnant band of Jewish diehards (some of whom died for their faith in the struggle), not only would the Jewish faith in the land of Israel have been stamped out, but likely the Jewish people would have ceased to exist either through genocide or forced assimilation with the pagans around them. Had this happened, how would the Messiah have been born in the land of Israel about 140 years later, which Christmas celebrates? There would have been no Jewish culture for the Messiah to be born into, and it’s possible that his ancestors would have been killed in a Jewish holocaust as well.