Hanukkah Series: Festival Traditions
Hello readers, and happy Hanukkah! It is the second night of this week-long festival. I hope everyone had a joyful first night. My family and I observed yesterday evening's candle lighting in the MOUNTAINS. It was great to gather around the table, light a candle, read from the books of Maccabees, and pray. I saw many Saints online share their menorahs and festivities also. Last night, we truly lit up the world with our menorahs!
In the picture on the right, there are my hanukkiah and menorah. I did not have any wicks for my 7 pronged menorah available (looking forward to going home for that haha), but I did light my hanukkiah, and it is beautiful! I enjoy lighting my menorahs around this time of year, a little light can be just enough in these dark and cold winter days. I count towards the eighth day, when my menorahs are completely lit! At this time of year, there is nothing more beautiful than the tree of life (menorah) adorned with so many lights. It expresses a message of hope, faith, life, peace, protection, and the glory of God. This is a season to remember Father, the provider of all these things. Amen.
Previously on the Hanukkah Series, I shared some insight on Hanukkah's messianic significance. Hanukkah points to Yeshua's divinity, Yeshua's identity as the Mashiach, and His perpetual glory that lives within all who follow Him. This is the most important element of Hanukkah to consider, because just like the rest of the biblical festivals, Hanukkah points to Yeshua. He is the reality of it all, and understanding Hanukkah means understanding a little more about our Savior. What a beautiful revelation! Now that we've covered an essential part to Hanukkah, let's move on to the festival traditions.
Lighting the Menorah
During this happy occasion, families and friends get together to celebrate the won battle between light and darkness. Light wins, and observers everywhere light the menorah, a 7 or 9 pronged candelabra that represent the lamp from the Hanukkah miracle. For eight nights, a new candle is lit, from left to right, and blessings are recited.
Depending on whichever community you are in, some households own one menorah per family, other households have a menorah for every family member. Different communities can also mean different menorahs. Although the hanukkiah (9 pronged menorah) was designed for Hanukkah, some people prefer to use the 7 pronged menorah because it is the original model that was used in the Temple.
People who use the hanukkiah believe there is a biblical prohibition for recreating and using objects from the Temple, for personal use (Exo. 30:32). Whichever one you decide to use, let it be according to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. I personally use both when I celebrate Hanukkah, and I understand and respect both sides.
Eating Fried Food
Fried foods— potato pancakes and jelly donuts are main festival foods during this time of year. Fried foods are clue to the Hanukkah miracle. You may not like potato pancakes and jelly donuts, and that is okay. You may add your own selection of fried foods. Now you know the best time you can add fried food to your diet!
Dreidel is the traditional game played to celebrate Hanukkah. A dreidel is a small spinning top, inscribed with Hebrew letters on its four sides. The dreidel is a reminder of when the armies of Antiochus controlled the Jerusalem. He passed laws outlawing the study of Torah and many of the commandments. The Jews were forced to learn and observe the Torah in secret. The Hebrew children resorted to learning Torah in faraway locations. It is said that if a Greek patrol passed by, they would hide the sacred books, and pull out small tops to play with. Learn how to play dreidel here.
Gelt, is the foil-wrapped chocolate coins that are exchanged during Hanukkah. This tasty currency like candy is also used to play dreidel for winnings.
What is a festival without music? For many communities, Hanukkah music is a joyous part of the celebrations. There are traditional and contemporary songs available for the festival. I have my own Hanukkah music playlist for Spotify and YouTube.
These are great traditions to start out with. Of course, as you observe Hanukkah more, throughout the years you will create your own festival traditions for you and your family. For my family and I, it is our third Hanukkah. We've added our own traditions and every year I look forward to them. Throughout the eight days we read eight Bible verses on “light” each night, have a prayer each night (concerning things we'd like Abba to glorify Himself in), read the books of Maccabees, listen to a teaching on Hanukkah, and have a feast on the last day with other believers who celebrate Hanukkah as well. I encourage you to get creative, or enjoy the simplicity of this festival. Allow Abba to lead you as you are observing Hanukkah. You may be asking, where do I start? He will show you what to do.
As I type this, I just finished lighting another candle for the second night of Hanukkah. I hope my beloved readers are having a joyful time this Hanukkah season. Continue to light your menorahs until the last day, but even then may YOU never stop shining the light of Yeshua, the glory of God within you. Take it into the darkness, and let this light draw all of mankind back to the Father. We are menorahs, so let the light shine! May God, our Father continue to strengthen you in the Master Yeshua Mashiach. I send my love to the Saints everywhere. Until next time, shalom.