Finding Joy in the Biblical Feasts
It’s Christmas time. There’s festive music on every radio station and in every store, lights, parties, and family get-togethers. There’s the cookie baking, caroling, decorating, and the scent of Christmas in the air. The season’s joy—Christmas spirit—is everywhere.
I love the Biblical feast days with all my heart. But I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss the spirit of joy and excitement that came so easily with the holidays I grew up celebrating.
Sometimes I wonder if Ruth in the Bible felt similarly. She left her people to join Israel and follow YHWH, sincerely, of course. Yet, what a culture shock.
As followers of Yeshua, we love our God, and once we realize His Holy Days have not been abolished, we want to draw closer to Him and honor Him through celebrating them. It’s hard sometimes, though. There’s no spirit of Rosh HaShana automatically filling the air in September. We’re not getting cards in the mail with invitations to Shavuot parties. There’s no Sukkot music on the radio or in any store. We don’t have Passover traditions and recipes passed down from generations. Lots of us don’t even have family to celebrate with.
How, then, do we embrace the Biblical Holy Days with joy—finding the “holiday spirit”—when most of the world is not participating?
It’s not necessarily easy at first. At least, it hasn’t been for me. But, with time and effort, it is possible. Let me share with you a few of the ways that have helped me and my husband learn to find joy in The Father’s Appointed Times.
First, be sure to learn about the reason for the season. Discovering and remembering the spiritual significance behind the Biblical Feast Days fills these new holidays with meaning.
Behind the commandments for Passover and Unleavened Bread is a memorialization and honoring of Yeshua’s death and resurrection, a celebration of our newfound freedom from sin and the curse of the law—death.
Shavuot celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit, who fills the word of God with life and guides us to all understanding; it marks the giving of the Torah and our ability to be grafted into the Kingdom.
Rosh HaShana reminds us that Yeshua is King and will come again to rule and reign and make all things new.
Yom Kippur is a time we cast aside the distractions of life to come before our Father and not only repent but dwell thankfully on his mercy and forgiveness.
Sukkot celebrates “The King in the field”—God among us—His provision in the fall harvest, and the birth of Yeshua the Messiah.
Although not an Appointed Time, Hanukkah is a heartfelt remembrance of the miraculous victory The Father gave the Jews over the Greeks, the sacrifices they made to stay faithful to God even under severe persecution, and the miracle of the oil for the menorah at the rededication of the temple.
Purim is a powerful remembrance of The Father saving His people from annihilation. It shows us that He can use anyone for His purpose, no matter how small or insignificant, as long as they are willing to be His vessels. It celebrates the fact that He is faithful to be our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble.
Additionally, the underlying theme of God’s provision and giving the firstfruits of the harvest back to Him still stands, whether we’re talking about crops, our time, or our money.
Second, it helps so much to create your own holiday traditions—ones to last a lifetime. The Torah gives us an outline of how to observe the Biblical Feast Days but leaves a lot of room to fill in the details. If, say, on Rosh HaShana, all we did to observe was call off work and blow a shofar, wouldn’t it feel a little empty and lonesome? However, when we add in meaningful traditions like a special meal, gathering with friends, singing, and dancing, then the celebration becomes a lot more celebratory.
My husband and I are only a few years into celebrating The Father’s Appointed Times. Still, we are actively working to create family traditions we can enjoy together and pass down to our future children.
During Passover and Unleavened Bread—in addition to participating in Founded in Truth’s lovely seder and Firstfruits celebration—we like to have a second, more intimate seder at home the second night of Unleavened Bread, giving us time to meditate on the words of the Haggadah. We also enjoy making matzah pizza (best thing ever!) and going to pick the first of the strawberries or visiting the farmer’s market for the first crops of spring. Although we aren’t usually big movie people, we love to watch “Risen” and “The Prince of Egypt” during the week of Passover.
For Shavuot, we have a few special treats we like to make, including savory kugel, mini chocolate cheesecakes, and peach crisp. We always bring at least one of those to FIT’s Shavuot celebration! We also have fun decorating with flowers and picking fresh peaches to celebrate the firstfruits of summer. The scripture readings for Shavuot are especially meaningful, depicting how the Holy Spirit came forth and breathed life into the word, and a firsthand account of how we can be grafted into Israel.
The day after Erev Rosh HaShana—when we go to FIT’s celebration—we’ll prepare a fancy, candlelit dinner to share with our King, like a date with the One whom we love most.
Some years we can’t go with FIT to celebrate Sukkot, so when that happens, we build an indoor Sukkah and invite family and friends over to eat delicious food with us in the Sukkah. We also like to watch The Nativity Story, since it’s such a beautiful depiction of our Savior’s birth.
Those are just a few of the ways we’ve made the Biblical holidays our own.
If you’re like me, then you’ve struggled to find the “holiday spirit” as you keep The Father’s Feast Days. I hope that these ideas will help you not only delight in growing closer to our Father and King but look forward to, cherish, and truly celebrate these holidays in your heart.
“And you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant and the Levite, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow, who are within your gates.” – Deuteronomy 16:14
Hannah Mayhorn is the owner and content creator at her blog, Naturally at Home. There she publishes educational health articles for individuals who want to help their body heal and create a wholesome and nourishing lifestyle at home. Topics include recipes, nutrition, herbal medicine, chronic illness, clean beauty, and lifestyle.