The questions have been asked so many times now: “Are you Jewish?”, “I thought you were a Christian?”, “Why would you celebrate that?”, “You don’t celebrate Jesus’ birth anymore?” “You don’t celebrate Christmas now?” – To answer them all: we are not Jewish, we are Christians, we celebrate it because Jesus/Yeshua celebrated it (John 10:22-42 during “Feast of Dedication” which was “Hanukkah” translated), we believe Hanukkah’s tie-in with the birth of Christ is extremely important. we don’t celebrate Christmas anymore, and have many reasons as to why not, but that would take far too long to explain, and we have decided to just be silent on the issue and to continue to serve Christ and show love to others regardless of the day and pray people will not be mad at us, but just see that we definitely love Jesus very much.
Although Hanukkah’s history isn’t in the Bible’s canon, you can read about it in the Maccabees. It is the account of the history leading up to a couple hundred years before Jesus was born, and after the history of the Old Testament. The story is basically about how the temple was defiled by Antiochus IV, the Seleucid who put an idol of Baal Shamen (the Greeks called him Zeus) inside the temple, had orgies there, sacrificed an “unclean” pig on the altar, etc. He proclaimed himself as “God” and made coins that said, “Theos Epiphanes” meaning “the god manifest.” The Jewish people were oppressed and were being told to give up every portion of who they were and their customs and to give up God (saying they couldn’t be circumcised, they couldn’t read the Torah, they had to give up the Sabbath, etc). Thousands of Jewish people were massacred. The Maccabees brought restoration to the temple three years later. There was not enough sacred oil to light up the menorah, as the jars had been defiled, yet miraculously, the one jar left undefiled that shouldn’t have lasted more than a day, lasted for eight, which was a miracle (think of your car’s gas tank being full for 8 full days without going down at all while driving for extended periods of time, that definitely would be a miracle). It was therefore to be remembered of how God saved the people again and brought about miracles (just like Passover and Purim reflect on God’s saving of the people and miracles – which are in Exodus and Esther – which yes, we also celebrate – I adored Passover earlier in the year so much).
When Yeshua, God’s own son was born, He brought Himself as a light to the dark world around us (and represents the candle in the middle called a Shamash, which is used to light each of the other candles). The temple no longer was important as a dwelling place of God; through Christ’s death causing the ripping of the great thick curtain, God had now decided He’d dwell among the people and would live within the hearts of man through the Holy Spirit (Ruach Hakodesh) to fulfill the Old Testament prophesies. Thus, we are the temple now. Christ’s light is now in us. Yeshua conquered death by returning to life and said someone better (the Holy Spirit) would come to live within us when we accept the gospel of Christ and believe fully in His salvation through the forgiveness of our sins.
We celebrated all eight days by cooking foods with much oil (pictured are chicken fingers I made from a recipe I got out of a Jewish cookbook my brother gave me – since the boys love chicken fingers. . .also Latkes aka potato pancakes – a staple Hanukkah food), lighting each candle on the menorah for each day, showing our sons about how we should give to others and to one another (to help people selflessly as we learn from Christ and being obedient to Him), to read scriptures together, to teach our boys that they are now chosen people of God through their decision of believing in Christ, in readings of thanksgiving and praise to God, in learning about the time during the Maccabees, in learning about Jesus/Yeshua coming into the world and saving us, in scripture readings, in praying together as a whole family, and to just spend some time together without having materialism flood through the holiday (so we only gave them one present, in which they shared, and they were very happy about that. We will most likely give them a little more as they grow, however).