Maybe it’s a coincidence that the Festival of Light, Hanukah, falls closely with and in some years, falls on the winter solstice. Maybe a coincidence, but in the Hebrew Testament there is no word for “coincidence”.
Christian scholars assure us that Jesus (in Hebrew, Yeshua) was definitely not born near the time of the winter solstice. The Greek Testament tells us that Joseph and Mary were on their way to Jerusalem, a pilgrimage to the Temple that Jews took at Passover and for the Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot. The Early Church, and especially the Holy Roman Church of the early middle ages, created a holiday called “Christmas” to coincide with and compete for audience share with pagan celebrations of the solstice.
Hanukah, the Festival of Light, is not found in the Hebrew Testament, also called the Tanakh. The story of Hanukah is found in the Apocrypha, which is a non-canonical collection of writings. The true story of the Macabees and the miracle of eight days of light occurred during the time between the two testaments.
Hanukah is what is called a “rabbinic” holiday. This means it is not a holiday that must be observed according to Mosaic Law from the Bible. Passover, which becomes Easter in Christianity and Shavuot, which becomes Pentecost are examples of biblically commanded holidays. The early Christians celebrated Hanukah, especially the Jewish followers of Jesus celebrated Hanukah, known also as the Feast of Dedication, in John 10:22.
Basic theology from both testaments confirms and encourages our bringing light into the world, especially during dark times. Stemming from Genesis 1, when the LORD G- D first created light (and by that light saw that it was good/tov). We give thanks for the miracle of Light that came and is in our world and lives and the miracle of the light that miraculously sustains us in our times of darkness.
Plus, we, as the observant children of the Creator, are encouraged to follow His example (as best we can). We light lights, we give gifts of charity and kindness.
In Western Jewish and Christian cultures, this holiday time is a season of light – but it is also a season of trees.
As described in the Bible, a menorah is a kind of image of a tree, often ornamented, that holds individual burning lamps, or candles, and more recently even electric lights. A Christmas tree is a real tree or some version of a tree (realistic or abstract) that is decorated with ornaments and in the past candles, but now usually electric lights.
Hanukah is very popular joyous holiday of gift giving, singing special songs, and enjoying special rich foods, and candy. Christians, followers of Jesus, are following His (and His early disciples’ example) by lighting when they Christmas trees, giving gifts, singing carols, and dining on special rich foods, and candy on Christmas.
The artwork below, Tree of Light – 2017, is a colored in coloring page, both by me, Judy Rey Wasserman. Is it a Hanukah menorah – or a Christmas tree? We celebrate together!
The words on the tree are KJV translation of 2 Samuel 22:29. You can see that text cited on the base of the tree.
The un-colored coloring page follows with a direct link to a printout PDF of the page itself – a special holiday gift from me to you – but only from Hanukah eve through Christmas night 2017. After that the link will be removed.
Whoever you are, however you celebrate the festivals of the miracle of Light brought into and overcoming darkness, enduring blessings, and renewed Dedication, I pray you are blessed with light, love and peace.
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Judy Rey Wasserman is an artist and the founder of Post Conceptual Art theory and also the branch known as UnGraven Image Art.