Jewish Holidays

Others have observed the similarities between Christian holidays and pagan celebrations—coming to conclusions as varied as denouncing all holidays in the name of orthopraxy, to inventing new ones, to reverting back to observance only of those holidays which appear in Scripture. While none of these approaches are wrong, we at Exodus celebrate those Christian holidays most prominent on the Christian calendar: Christmas and Easter primarily, and while it's not specifically a traditional Christian holiday, Thanksgiving.

But it's important to understand where our holiday traditions originated, and that it's not pagan holidays we primarily draw from in observance of our own, but those decreed by God Himself to the people of Israel. Yom Kippur, for instance, the Jewish Day of Atonement, is a foretaste of the redemption we celebrate at Easter. Passover foreshadows the Lord's Supper and the Passion of Christ. Rosh Hashanah corresponds to Lent as observers fast in anticipation of the Day of Atonement. Even "secular" Jewish holidays like Purim (celebration of the overthrow of Haman in the book of Esther) is similar to the Christian observance of All Saints' Day.

The reason we don't observe these holidays in exactly the same way now is that Christ's work precludes the need for celebration in the same way. Whereas the Jews celebrated in anticipation of the coming Messiah, we celebrate what He already accomplished and our continued hope in Him. While it is important to avoid pagan overtones (Easter eggs, for example, are holdovers from Babylonian worship of the fertility goddess Ishtar, and therefore have no place in Christian practice), it is equally important to realize that the Jewish understanding of redemption was incomplete, and that our holidays have necessarily developed to accomodate Christian doctrines and truth.

That being said, there is still plenty the Jewish holidays can offer. On one hand, they are evidence of Christ's presence in the Old Testament, kind of living prophecies God's people were supposed to enact to remind themselves of the coming of the Savior. On the other, the very traditions attached to them are deeply theological, and demonstrate the way God wants us to view and understand Him. There really is no recourse for proper celebration of the Jewish feasts today (even for Jews–with no temple there can be no proper Jewish worship), but there are plenty of resources available to help Christians understand the nature of these celebrations and thereby to deepen their own faith.

Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.


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Jewish Holidays
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12 Items found Print
All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah
by Emily Jenkins
from Schwartz & Wade
in Picture Books (Location: PICTURE)
Celebrate the Feasts
by Martha Zimmerman
from Bethany House
in Christmas & Advent (Location: HOLIDAY)
$4.00 (1 in stock)
Celebrating Biblical Feasts
by Martha Zimmerman
from Bethany House
for Adult
in Holidays (Location: HOLIDAY)
$15.99 $8.50 (1 in stock)
Children's Illustrated Jewish Bible
by Laaren Brown & Lenny Hort
Revised Edition from DK Children
for 1st-6th grade
in World Religions, Cults and Sects (Location: XAP-WRCS)
$15.00 (1 in stock)
Christian Passover Seder
by John Pontier
1st edition from Doorposts
for Adult
in Jewish Holidays (Location: HOLIDAY)
Family Treasury of Jewish Holidays
by Malka Drucker
from Little, Brown & Company
for 4th-7th grade
in Jewish Holidays (Location: HOLIDAY)
$12.00 (1 in stock)
Feasts of the Bible
from Rose Publishing
for 7th-Adult
in Jewish Holidays (Location: HOLIDAY)
$2.50 (2 in stock)
Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins
PJ Library Edition
by written by Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman
from Holiday House
for 2nd-6th grade
1990 Caldecott Honor Book
in Picture Books (Location: PICTURE)
$3.75 (1 in stock)
by Maida Silverman
First Edition from Dial Books for Young Readers
for 4th-8th grade
in Near & Middle East (Location: HISMC-NME)
Jewish Holidays & Traditions - Coloring Book
Dover Coloring Books
by Chaya Burstein
from Dover Publications
for 2nd-6th grade
in Dover Coloring Books (Location: COL-DOV)
Menorahs, Mezuzas, and Other Jewish Symbols
by Miriam Chaikin
from Houghton Mifflin
for 4th-6th grade
in Holidays (Location: HOLIDAY)
Under The Fig Tree
by Patrick Gabriel Lumbroso
from Xulon Press
for 10th-Adult
in Devotionals (Location: XCL-DEV)