When we come into this walk one of the hardest things for most people centers around the holidays. We learn about these incredible Feast Days that YHWH instituted and instructed us to observe, and we have a strong desire to observe them, but at the same time, many of us were raised for many years celebrating different holidays in honor of Y’shua. Most of us have a special place in our hearts for these holidays and the years of memories that we have surrounding them. For some people, the transition is easy, but for most people, it’s one of the hardest parts of this walk, especially for those of us with young kids. As someone who is new to Torah, the last thing anyone needs is to be bombarded with claims that every holiday outside of the seven Feast Days outlined in Leviticus 23 is pagan, and we shouldn’t celebrate them.
I want to point out something crucial that many people may never think about…The difference between a Holiday and a Holy Day. According to Merriam-Webster, a Holy Day is “a day set aside for special religious observance” and a Holiday is “a special day of celebration; a day when most people do not have to work.”
With this in mind, it’s important to realize what days are Holy Days and which ones are just Holidays. In Exodus 32, we see a perfect example of this when Aaron declared a particular day as a Holy Day to YHWH. The golden calf was not created so they could worship it; it was set up to replace Moses who they feared was not coming back down from the top of the mountain. They still considered YHWH their God, but Moses was their mediator, and the golden calf was meant to replace him as the mediator between Israel and YHWH. This is evident by Aaron’s proclamation in verse 5, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to YHWH.” Was YHWH mad because they created a feast to honor Him or because they were honoring Him the way that pagans worshiped their gods, with an Idol? Deuteronomy 12:4 makes it clear that we are not to worship Him the way pagans worship their gods. To fully understand what it means not to worship YHWH the way pagans worshiped their gods, we have to know how pagans worshiped. Unfortunately, that is beyond the scope of this teaching, but there are plenty of scholarly books and articles out there that go into exactly what pagan worship looked like.
If someone chooses not to celebrate any days outside of the seven Feast Days outlined in the Bible, then that is fine, I respect and support your decision. However, there are people out there that will put an unnecessary burden on people new to this walk by telling them that days like Thanksgiving, Father’s, and Mother’s Day, July 4th, etc. are all pagan, and we should not be celebrating them.
One of the popular claims is that Father’s Day is pagan because it’s based on Sun worship and is always on Sunday in the United States. Also, because it falls around the time of the summer solstice. There is NO substantial evidence to support that Father’s Day has anything to do with the solstice or sun worship. I could just as easily make the claim that ketchup is pagan because it looks like blood. Or that we should avoid using the number 8 because if turned sideways it is the symbol for infinity, which no doubt pagans have used.
Father’s Day is celebrated around the world by many different countries, and it’s not always on a Sunday or even around the time of the summer solstice. Russia celebrates it on February 23, South Sudan the last Monday of August, and Indonesia on November 12th. Father’s Day is a Holiday, not a Holy Day.
There are also people that will claim that it’s a tradition of man and that Y’shua was against traditions of man. Ladies and Gentlemen, Y’shua, didn’t come to preach against or get rid of traditions; he came to remind us not to put our traditions above YHWH’s Torah.
When it comes to days set aside to worship and honor YHWH, the seven feast days laid out in Leviticus 23 are the set apart times that YHWH has scheduled specific times to meet with us. That does not mean that we can not set aside other days that are important or meaningful such as Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, 4th of July, Birthdays, and Mother’s and Father’s Day. They are just celebrations that men created. There’s nothing wrong with believers celebrating days that YHWH didn’t institute unless they cause us to violate Torah. There are many examples in scripture of great men of YHWH declaring days of celebration. When King David brought the Ark back into its proper place, he declared a celebration. It wasn’t instructed by YHWH, it was David’s idea, but that doesn’t make it wrong or Pagan (1 Chronicles 15:16, 2 Samuel 6:5). In Genesis 21:8 we see that Abraham held a “Great Feast” when Isaac was weaned. YHWH didn’t instruct this feast. In Genesis 26:30 when Isaac made a covenant with Abimelech they had a feast and celebrated. When Y’shua told the parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15…what does the father do when his son returns home? He had a feast and celebrated.
These are only a few examples of people picking days at random to have a feast and celebrate but, there are lots more throughout the Bible. It’s easy to tie paganism into all sorts of things, but just because YHWH didn’t institute a celebration does not mean we can’t celebrate it. At the end of the day, do your own research and if you feel that you shouldn’t celebrate certain man-made holidays then don’t celebrate them. But don’t become a Torah Terrorist and scare people into thinking that every holiday is pagan.