Top 10 Myths About Hanukkah

lighting-menorah-hanukkah-2010
My youngest daughter, Angie

As a Christian who celebrates Hanukkah, I’m used to the raised eyebrows and careless remarks that come from misunderstanding.

 

So, to head off a few of them, here are the Top Ten False, Incorrect, Not True, Wrong, Myths about Hanukkah.

#10 Hanukkah was made so Jews would have something to do during Christmas. Wrong. The celebration of Hanukkah began well nearly two hundred years before the birth of Jesus.

#9 Hanukkah is a Jewish Christmas. No, it’s not. It’s a totally different holiday that falls around the same time of the year as Christmas.

#8 Rabbis decide when to celebrate every year. No. Hanukkah moves around on our modern Gregorian calendar, but it always begins the 25th of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar, and continues for eight days.

Hebrew calendar date converter

#7  The word Hanukkah means “Festival of Lights.” No. Even though we call the holiday the Festival of Lights, the word Hanukkah (an Americanization of the Hebrew word חנוכה ) means dedication. Hanukkah celebrates the anniversary of the rededication of the Temple.

#6  Jews do not eat yeast during Hanukkah. No. That’s Passover. Yeast is permissible, and enjoyed, during Hanukkah. The only dietary restrictions during Hanukkah are the same as those observed year-round.

#5  Hanukkah is not mentioned in the Bible. The Hanukkah celebration is in the Christian New Testament gospel of John.  John 10:22-23 records Jesus going to the temple during Hanukkah.

Read what Jesus said during Hanukkah.

The events surrounding Hanukkah can be found in the apocryphal books of 1 Maccabees and 2 Maccabees, which were part of all Christian Bibles for the first 450 years after Jesus, and which remain in Catholic Bibles.

In addition, many scholars believe that the vision recorded in Daniel 8 is of the events surrounding the rededication of the Temple under the reign of Antiochus–the reason behind the Hanukkah celebration.

#4  Only Jews celebrate Hanukkah. Not so. Some Christians–who believe that Jesus is the incarnation of the God of Israel–embrace Hanukkah as an opportunity to remember and to teach about God’s miracles and provision through the Jewish people.

#3 The dreidel is just a toy. While the traditional Hanukkah spinning top is a toy, it is also a cleverly-devised way to recount God’s miracles. The letters on the dreidel form an acronym in Hebrew which means, A Great Miracle Happened There (Or “happened here” when played in Jerusalem).

#2 You need an expensive and sacred menorah to celebrate properly. Nope. People often design and purchase expensive, elaborate Hanukkah decorations, but a simple line of candles will do. For a quick do-it-yourself hanukkiah (Hanukkah menorah), super glue nine hardware nuts to a ceramic tile. Add candles. Or you can just line up candles together. The lights become sacred when they are dedicated to God.

And the #1 myth about Hanukkah. . . You can’t celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas. Nonsense. You may celebrate one or the other. Or neither. Or you can celebrate both! 

“One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind…Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another.” (Romans 14:5, 13, NIV)

See Hanukkah: Not for Kids Only

Note: This post was edited 12/5/2015 to eliminate broken links, to insert a link that works, and to slip in some of the information that the broken links would have given, if they were still there. -kf


4 thoughts on “Top 10 Myths About Hanukkah

  1. One thing about Hanukkah that most people forget, is that the real reason it lasted eight days was because it
    was the delayed Sukkot–the Feast of Tabernacles–that could not be celebrated while the Jewish fighters
    were at war with the forces of Antiochus IV Epiphanes (called “epimenes”–madman) up in the hills that year
    in 165 BC. The accounts of how Hanukkah was celebrated mention the use of the lulavs. The rituals were for
    Sukkot, and took the entire eight days. This mirrors what King Solomon did, when he dedicated the Jerusalem
    Temple at Sukkot, and extended the celebration an additional week. (I Kings 3; II Chronicles 6-7)

    For American citizens, there are three times during the year Sukkot can be celebrated:

    A. At the early autumnal celebration, which occurs late September to the middle of October;
    B. Thanksgiving Day, the fourth Thursday in November; this day was based upon Sukkot;
    C. Hanukkah, which occurs in late November through late December, depending upon when
    the month Kislev begins.

    We know that Yeshua/Jesus was conceived around this time; for this reason, some scholars believe that
    our date of Christmas–December 25–actually points to the INCARNATION, rather than the birth of Yeshua/Jesus,
    which would have occured around September, near or at the Sukkot Festival.

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