Hanukkah usually falls between Thanksgiving and Christmas, sometimes early, like in November and sometimes even on Christmas Day. If you’re thinking about how Christians should celebrate Hanukkah or if it’s merely a Jewish version of Christmas, set the doubts aside as we delve deeper into the essence of this Festival of Lights.
How to Celebrate Hanukkah as a Christian
This blog will tell you how to celebrate Hannukah as a Christian.
1. Praise the Lord
Hanukkah themes are replete with demonstrations of God’s omnipotence. This is one of God’s characteristics that demonstrates His boundless ability to achieve whatever He desires. He is all-powerful, as evidenced by His victory over the Syrian oppressors of the Jewish people, and the narrative goes how He miraculously permitted one day’s worth of oil to remain ablaze for eight days until enough could be prepared for the Temple Menorah.
The other major subject is God’s closeness to His people. Despite enormous adversity, God protected His people exactly as He had promised. Even if the conditions were impossible, God made it happen. He demonstrated that He honors His promises to the people, always.
These ideas, however, are not exclusive to the Hanukkah story. They’re found in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, and if you pay attention, you’ll notice them in your own and others’ lives. He is all-knowing and all-powerful. He is capable of completing any task. And He never abandons His people. He was then, is now, and always will be. That’s something to rejoice over.
2. Lighting Up the Menorah
This is perhaps the most popular Hanukkah tradition. The menorah used in Hanukkah is not identical to the ones used in the Temple — a seven-branched menorah, as most translations name it. A Hanukkiah is what is used during Hanukkah. It features nine branches instead of seven to accommodate nine candles, one each for Hanukkah’s eight nights and the ninth oneto burn the others, known as the shemash.
Each night, one candle is lit, and the candle in the highest candleholder is often used to light others. They’re lit from left to right, and a fresh candle is placed on the Hanukkiah on the right-hand side each night. When the candles are lit up, prayeris frequently said.
3. Playing Dreidel
While this practice doesn’t have much to do with Hanukkah’s past, it is a delightful game to play over the holiday that will engage both children and adults. Two items are required to enjoy playing dreidel, in addition to a few fun family members or friends, a dreidel itself and a few chips, like chocolate coins, also called gelt.
A dreidel has four sides, each with four Hebrew letters. The words “a wonderful miracle happened there”are represented by these characters.
4. Decorating the House
Apart from the menorah, the possibilities for Hanukkah decoration are practically limitless. You can make some lovely Hanukkah decorations that would go with any décor, like constructing garlands out of stars and having one banner saying Happy Hanukkah on display, etc.
5. Giving Gifts
Another non-historical Hanukkah custom is gift-giving. It’s a uniquely American custom, owing to Hanukkah being close to Christmas on the calendar. Some families give one present each night of Hanukkah, and some even conceal them for added excitement!
Giving gifts doesn’t always refer to materialistic things; sometimes, the best gift you can give to your friends or family is your valuable time. These days, daily lives and routines get so busy that we barely have time for loved ones. You must spend time with your family, especially on all special occasions, not only Hanukkah but Christmas or any other religious or traditional occasion.
6. Read the Jewish History
Reading the Jewish history will give you more insight into what the festival of Hanukkah is actually celebrated for. Reding about the first Jews, also called the Maccabees, will be a good educational and knowledgeable experience for you and your family.
The Bible also has Hebrew roots and origins, so it will also give more context to the understanding of your faith, Christianity. The Old Testament of the Bible, a major section, has around 24 books that describe the history and the origins of the Jews and are originally composed of old traditional Hebrew and now translated into other languages.
7. Have Hanukkah Dinner
Set up a feast for the festival of Hanukkah. Invite your friends and family members over. It might be difficult to have dinner on all eight days of Hanukkah, so it’s okay to get maybe a day or two fixed, whatever time and day it is convenient for you and your loved ones, and have a feast on that day.
Try and include the traditional dishes that are associated with the festival of Hanukkah. Since there is a miracle of the oil in the story of Hanukkah, people tend to include a lot of fried dishes in the dinner. This includes fried meat, chicken, or fish, according to your liking. Potato hashbrowns and doughnuts are also common items you’ll find in Hanukkah dinners and feasts.
Our Final Thoughts
These are some of the customs and traditions linked with Hannukah that you can follow to get into the spirit of the religious celebration. Hanukkah is a Jewish festival that is celebrated to commemorate the story of the Maccabees, the first Jews, over the Syrian army.
The festival has no direct link to Christians, but since it’s celebrated around the same time as Christmas, many Christians tend to celebrate Hanukkah as well. If you want to start celebrating Hanukkah, this guide on how to celebrate Hanukkah as a Christian should be helpful to you.