For numerous Biblical reasons, our family stopped celebrating Christmas many years ago. Our relatives didn’t understand our reasons, but accepted the decision as best they could. One side still sent Christmas presents that our children accepted with gratefulness because “every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17). The other side began wrapping Christmas gifts in Hanukkah paper. Though that was their way of respecting our decision, Hanukkah is not a Jewish substitute, replacement or alternative to Christmas. Hanukkah and Christmas have two very different historical, spiritual backgrounds and have nothing in common with one another.
The roots and traditions of Christmas can be found in the Roman celebration of Saturnalia on which the Catholic church sprinkled holy water. They incorporated the birth of a non-Jewish Jesus and created the Christ Mass (which ironically means ‘death sacrifice’). Those who embrace Christmas believing it is Jesus’ birthday are doing nothing more than acknowledging catholicism as the root of their faith, even if they are protestants who claim to reject everything catholic. In fact, all of Christianity and secular society for this one day of the year become catholic in their celebrations and promote the idolatrous Saturnalia with a holiday of stars, wreaths, greenery, and gift giving.
“Then came Hanukkah in Yerushalayim. It was winter …” (John 10:22)
Yeshua celebrated Hanukkah in Jerusalem during his tenure on earth. He, along with his Jewish brothers and sisters remembered the events surrounding Hanukkah, the Festival of Dedication, found in the Apocrypha. Hanukkah is rooted in Jewish history during the time when Alexander the Great wanted to Hellenize the world. At the same time, the Emperor Hadrian changed the name of Judea to the Greek Palestine in order to expedite the destruction of the nation and people of Israel.
Alexander’s cohort, Antiochus Epiphanes meaning ‘antichrist manifest,’ went about ‘Palestine’ forcing the Jewish people to renounce their faith in the God of Israel or die. He sought to destroy the people and the lineage through whom the Messiah would come.
The Jewish people were not allowed to circumcise their children, celebrate Passover or any of God’s other holy days, or offer sacrifices in the Temple. As Antiochus’ armies entered Jerusalem, they desecrated the Most Holy Place in the Temple with pig’s blood. This is the same Temple that Muslim world leaders claim never existed; the same place where an Islamic mosque stand today.
Our family is not nor ever was catholic so we do not celebrate Christmas by taking part in the Christ Mass. Our children were raised to understand the historically unholy roots of Christmas and have never felt as if they were missing some great holiday.
After we read that the prophet Jeremiah warned God’s people about cutting down a tree and bringing it into the house, we stopped cutting down a Christmas tree and decorating it with all its lights, ornaments, and angels. We stopped following the customs of the church like Advent calendars and candle wreaths.
Instead, we taught our children about Hanukkah and the anti-semitism of the Greek/Roman world, the same anti-semitism that still exists in the church because of its catholic-rooted heritage. We taught our children about the anti-semitism and hatred of Israel in the ideology of the much-tolerated religion of Islam. We taught our children that obeying the commands of God are more important than the traditions of men and the culture in which we live.
Our children are grown and have their own lives, but each still remembers the Maccabees and their fight to free the Jews from being Hellenized with foreign gods. They light their menorahs for eight nights to remember the re-dedication of the Temple Altar back to Adonai. Each night with the candle light they remember the prophecies for when Yeshua returns and sets His feet on the Mount of Olives. He will enter the Eastern Gate of Jerusalem and will cleanse a recently-built Temple from the ‘abomination of desolation’ (Matthew 24:15-26, 2 Thessalonians 2:4). Yeshua will restore Jerusalem and the nation of Israel to the Millennial glory promised in the Scriptures.
Hanukkah is not the Jewish Christmas. Changing the wrapping paper on a present or saying “Happy Hanukkah” rather than “Merry Christmas” changes nothing about the differences between the two. One is a celebration with pagan roots and decorated to entice the world into idolatry; the other is a memorial to those who fought against anti-semitism and stood against the destruction of their faith in the God of Israel and His Torah. Unlike the Christmas holiday, Hanukkah is a reminder from a century before the birth of Yeshua that no one, especially a modern antiochus, can remove or change the Torah that comes out of Zion and the Word of Adonai that comes from Jerusalem –– including the Vatican or the pope (Micah 4:2).
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