Hanukkah and Christianity – Hand in Hand?

Image Source: goo.gl/AfqBNe

Some people would say that Hanukkah and Christmas cannot be celebrated together except on the most superficial level because each one is a celebration of our unique identity, particularly Hanukkah. Others would say that there is no conflict.

The History

The History of Hanukkah goes back to 175 BC, when Antiochus IV Epiphanes invaded Judea. Flavius Josephus tells us:

The king … came upon the Jews with a great army, and took their city by force, and slew a great multitude … He also spoiled the temple, and put a stop to the constant practice of offering a daily sacrifice of expiation for three years and six months.

The Maccabees

In 167 BC Antiochus erected an altar in the Temple and ordered swine to be sacrificed on it. Mattathias, a Jewish priest, moved with rage, killed the Jew who wanted to comply with Antiochus’s sacrifice and then killed the Greek official who was to enforce the order. Thus began the revolt against the Seleucid monarchy which, by 165 BC was successful. The Temple was rededicated and the festival of Hanukkah instituted to celebrate the event.

The Conflict between the Religions

The conflict arises when we see Christianity as a foreign religion, similar to that of the ancient Greeks, but this is not how it was originally seen. Christianity was a sect, and even a casual reading of the book of Acts will make this plain.


At the time of Jesus, there were countless sects. Three major sects mentioned in Scripture, each taking turns at ruling like modern political parties, were the Pharisees, Sadducees and Herodians. The differences in belief, particularly between the Pharisees and Sadducees are not in mere details. The Bible tells us that Sadducees did not believe in angels, spirits or the resurrection; while the Pharisees believed in all these things. The Apostle Paul, by the very mention of the resurrection, provokes a heated argument among them.

Sects are a Part of an Intelligent Society

The Jews in Jesus’ day were very tolerant of different views within their religion, and this is what we would expect from a highly civilized people. If I can’t convince you, or at least persuade you to my way of thinking through logic and reason, then that’s my lack, not yours. Twice in the book of Acts, Christianity is referred to as a sect. Moreover, when we look at the preaching of the Apostles, they quote from David, Moses and the prophets… in the Temple and in synagogues.

I Don’t See That in Modern Christianity

Modern Christianity has willingly diverged from its Jewish roots, many would say to its detriment. It seems that when one religion supersedes another in a certain place, it transforms somewhat to the shape of the religion it is replacing. The Christian churches in India, for example, have elements that are suspiciously similar to aspects of Hindu temples. If Christianity practices originated from the Bible, they should have some aspects of Jewish tradition.


What needs to be said about Christmas? It is a celebration of the birth of Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. Whether Jesus was actually born on December 25th matters little, it is a celebration of the fact that he was born. On the other hand, it would be strange for the followers of Christ to lose track of the date of such a momentous event. The fact that the date is not mentioned in the Christian Scriptures, while the Passover is, may indicate that its observation is not as important for Christians as Easter. But that’s another story.

Hanukkah and Christianity

Hanukkah shouldn’t be a problem for Christians, because Christianity is seen as a fulfillment of everything that came before, including the dedication of the Temple. We know that Jesus observed the usual feasts of His day because, if He hadn’t, it would have been noticed and therefore recorded. Not only did he participate, He revealed a new significance; the Passover being the most obvious example.

The Harmony

Hanukkah and Christmas are like creation and redemption; celebrate one, the other or both. There is no contradiction.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.