If I Could Go Back in Time I Would Celebrate Christmas and Chanukah Like This

December 17, 2019
Daniah Greenberg
Hanukkah and Christmas

If you’re wondering whether to celebrate Christmas or Chanukah as a believer in Jesus, my answer is this:

Relationships matter more.

I remember how sweet it was celebrating Chanukah the first time after I married Mark. We made potato pancakes and applesauce with his family and we made Christmas cookies with mine. It was just double the fun, right?

At first, eight days of presents and no tree to put up seemed like a fair trade- off. Then, I came to understand that Yeshua IS the lampstand inside us, instead of just Baby Jesus born in a manger scene. Beyond that, since we were intermarried and we could celebrate on different days, without dividing our family time, celebrating them separately actually seemed like a blessing at the time.

A 2,000 Year Divide

But what took years to come to grips with is that less than 300 years of human history actually separated the two events – Chanukah and Christmas! And, most important of all, this wasn’t an “end of year family party,” it was truly “the reason for the season.” The 2000 year divide between Judaism and Christianity finds it’s crescendo every year at this time and YOU have to choose how your family either rejects it or embraces it.

I can tell you, that after years of tossing away my catholic roots of Christmas in favor of celebrating only Chanukah, I did a disservice to my children. 

In my zeal to follow the God of Israel, and His Messiah – Yeshua of Nazareth – I rejected the “pagan” traditions of Christmas and really hurt my mother in the process. Looking back, I basically just switched out my red and green decorations for blue and silver ones.  And, in my effort to be a conscientious objector, I ‘shared’ my opinion with everyone who asked me.  Frankly, it was insufferably awkward.

I know I thought I was doing right by my own growing family, but knowing what I know NOW, I would do it this way…

Relationships Matter More

I would enjoy every family tradition that DOESN’T personally offend the Holy Spirit. I would have a great attitude. I would be thankful for every single effort anyone made to remember God and Yeshua, including decorating a tree – as long as it brings family together in SHALOM. I would taste and rejoice over every recipe someone else created to bless me. I would laugh at every family story that is NOT at someone else’s expense. I would take dozens of pictures of all the people around, even if relationships seemed strained in the moment. I would hug everyone at least one extra time before we left.

Holidays mark time. Every year has its own challenges and rewards. And, God loves to show how He is the same year after year, even as people come and go from our lives each year.

Please take a moment to invite HIM to the celebration, even if it’s just by praying in the car before you walk into your next relatives’ home. And, DO NOT use the holiday as a time to push your agenda, start another family feud or purposely shun someone who loves you. Life is too, too short for regrets and neglect.

Holidays make you think about family because strangers – even fun ones – don’t compare to the love of the people God chose to connect your life to. You didn’t choose your parents, God did. God also chooses how much time you get to enjoy them. There is no family relationship that God can’t restore as long as the breath of life exists and forgiveness is genuine.

Any family tree can be healed by God when you remember how much He loves you. Believe He loves you.  Believe He loves your family through your witness. Be winsome and maybe you’ll “win some” back to Him, too. 

About the Author

Daniah Greenberg

Daniah is the CEO & Founder of the TLV Bible Society. She is also the spokesperson and chief fundraiser along with her husband Rabbi Mark Greenberg.

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  1. Daniah, I always love reading your blogs and comments. I value your insight and appreciate your honesty. I agree whole heartedly that Yeshua cares more about relationships than traditions…. my struggle is with the Paganism that has infiltrated the church for thousands of years and we’ve come to accept it….. It is as if the wall was broken and torn down and tradition and acceptance has defiled the truth….should we not be correcting the wrong beliefs and traditions and turn people back? Not a statement, but true question. Knowing the real original purpose and meaning of the tree … should we use it to celebrate the birth of our Savior? If we celebrate should our centerpiece be the Manger and not a pagan symbol? Please know my heart is to lead honestly and correctly …. Mark 7:13. Would absolutely love a round table discussion… not looking for religion, religious philosophy — just direction.

  2. Shalom & Happy Hanukkah & Merry Christmas. A wonderful & encouraging story. May the Lord Bless You & Keep You & Give You His Shalom Forever.
    Yours in Yeshua ha’Mashiach.
    Jim Dukes
    San Antonio, TX

  3. Sometimes we have to wonder why we do what we do . God our Father Sweet Yeshua {Jesus] Is The Truth and
    you shall know the Truth and the Truth shall set you free . And the Truth is Jesus [Yeshua} We must be Born Again You must confess Him as Lord and Savior You must Believe. Chanukah which mean Dedication We must Dedicate our life to Him. Christmas is December 25th .And I have celebrate it most of my life. I have celebrate Chanukah for some Years now. Most of all I CELEBRATE MY SAVIOR TO GOD BE THE GLORY. TO CLEBRATE CHANUKAH OR CHRISTMAS We must ask ourselves are we His CHILDREN ARE WE BORN AGAIN JOHN 10:9.Also you must LET LOVE ABIDE .Our Father Yah Sweet JESUS HOLY WORD IS TRUE. So I SAY TO SOME OF MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS WHO CELEBRATE CHANUKAH HAPPY CHANUKAH. AND SOME I SAY MERRY CHRISTMAS WHO ARE THE SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF OUR SAVIOR. BELIEVERS.CHANUKAH OR CHRISTMAS CANNOT SAVE US. WE MUST BELIEVE WE MUST HAVE APERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH OUR SAVIOR. AMEN AMEN AMEN

  4. Thank you Daniah for your insightful and thoughtful article! According to Torah and the Living Torah – Yeshua, relationships are the most important, with God and with each other! My problem with celebrating christmas is with gift exchanges. Most family and friends want to do gift exchanges which can create unneccesary stress and debt in the lives of believers. For most folks it is about spending lots of money and creating the expectation that everyone participate in gift giving. Every year I would fee the obligation of having to buy presents for not only family, but also friends and coworkers. I felt burdened by this, creating debt that took months and years to alleviate. Presents and debt have nothing to do with celebrating the birth of our Messiah. This yearly stress started to cause anger and frustration in my inner being, celebrating christmas became a loathsome idea to me. Now that I do not celebrate this holiday, I have much more peace in my life and more money to actually give to others, not out of obligation, but out of a willing heart. I tell my friends and family how much I love and appreciate them. I tell them about Yeshua being the light of the world (at hanukkah and year round) and I take the opportunity to tell them about His birth perhaps taking place at the Feast of Tabernacles. (God dwelling amongst His people) The Festivals (God’s appointed times) become great topics of discussion. And for the believers (who are really just celebrating the birth of Messiah at christmas rather than all of the commercialism), they are usually interested to hear more about God’s appointments. (Yeshua may have been conceived during the Festival of Re-dedication and born on the week of Sukkot (Tabernacles) What an interesting time of the year to engage in more of these eye opening conversations! May we all truly honor the God of Israel at this time and all year round! Blessings of Messiah’s shalom and love! Carol B.

  5. As a newly minted Messianic, I recognized this right away! As a follower of Yeshua, I started celebrating Hanukkah on my own this year (I am divorced and my kids are grown), and felt the amazing power of LIGHT! Likewise, I am at this moment back home in Texas (I live in Vancouver, WA) visiting my daughter’s family, to include my three month old granddaughter on her first Christmas! God is a God of relationships: He didn’t NEED Adam; He wanted someone to share His amazing light and love with!

    Thank You!

    And Blessings at this joyous time of year, whatever your traditions may be!

  6. Found your letter very interesting as I started to keep the sabbath round4 years ago,after yeshua spoke to me and said I want you to see me as I really am the Jewish messiah.I stopped going to church my life has changed unbelievably.I have stopped celebrating Christmas and the other pagan holidays.But I do have o watch what I say because people do not understand. I would welcome your view.

    1. Brenda,

      Indeed, it is unfortunate, but we have inherited lies (Jer 16:19).

      Yeshua said:

      “Do not think that I came to bring shalom on the earth; I did not come to bring shalom, but a sword. For I have come to set ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.’ “He who loves father or mother more than Me isn’t worthy of Me, and he who loves son or daughter more than Me isn’t worthy of Me.
      Matthew 10:34‭-‬37 TLV

      As far as holidays (holy days) were concerned, Yeshua kept God’s appointed times (Lev 23) and apparently some traditional observances (e.g. John 10:22-23). However, I’m certain he was careful not to mix what is holy with what is profane (Deuteronomy 12:29-31).

      We are instructed to walk as Yeshua walked. If our rabbi/priest/pastor/teacher/etc states something differently, then must choose whom to follow…

      1. Messianic Judaism gives prideful, self-righteous people a wonderful opportunity to be holier-than-thou. That is what turns me if from it.

        Loved the article ! That is what actual insight and love looks like

  7. Thank you for reminding me that whatever I do in celebration of this holiday season. Not to grieve the Holy Spirit and that family is important to our Heavenly Father and Lord Jesus and should be to us. Blessings to you all sister Daniah and family

  8. A loving appreciation of celebrating relationships during Chanukah and Christmas! Thank you for answering a question which had been lingering in my mind; “How do Messianic Christians celebrate Christmas?”

    1. Thank you so much for answering something I have really been struggling with this year. This should be a time of healing and not division.

    1. It seems you are talking about traditions. The tree, etc. That is not what Christmas is about. If you would like to celebrate each families tradition that is great! It works for your family.❤️