What About Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Purim?
Since the Jews added the feasts of Purim (the origins of which are described in the book of Esther) and Hanukkah, otherwise known as the Feast of Lights or Feast of Dedication (mentioned in John 10:22-23), some believe we are free to add any religious holidays and celebrations of our own choosing. Is this true?
Important differences in the background and intent of these observances are obvious when we compare them to Christmas, Easter and Halloween. The Jews instituted Purim to commemorate their deliverance during the time of Esther, and Hanukkah to celebrate the rededication of the Jerusalem temple after its defilement by the Syrian invader Antiochus Epiphanes. Neither originated from paganism, although over the centuries these celebrations have taken on some practices, like the Hanukkah bush, that are rooted in paganism.
In their original form, Hanukkah and Purim, like the American holiday of Thanksgiving, are celebrations of thanks and honor to God for His intervention and blessings. The way some Americans celebrate Thanksgiving is far removed from the original intent, but that does not alter the real meaning and significance of the day.
An important distinction between acceptable holidays and those rooted in paganism (like Christmas and Easter) is that they do not alter, replace or distort the meaning of a festival of God or other biblical truths.
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