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 (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. Purim commemorates the defeat of the Jews' enemies during the time of Queen Esther, and Hanukkah celebrates the rededication of the Jerusalem temple after its defilement by the Syrian king Antiochus Epiphanes. Neither incorporates pagan customs. Hanukkah, like the American holiday of Thanksgiving, is a celebrations of thanks and honor to God for His intervention and blessings.
An important distinction between these holidays and those rooted in paganism is the realization that these celebrations can be kept in addition to God's commanded feast days. Unlike Christmas and Easter, they do not alter, replace or distort the meaning of a festival of God or other biblical truths. These particular days are in harmony with the apostle Paul's admonition for "giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 5:20).
©2002 United Church of God, an International Association