As far as I know, Karaite Judaism recognizes the Tanakh only as its source of Jewish Law and practice.

However Karaites do celebrate Purim based on the Book of Esther, so they do observe non-mosaic institutions that are based on written sources unaffiliated with The Oral Tradition. I Maccabbes was written by a Jewish author and a simple reading of I Mac 4:59 Has the Jewish people as a whole instituting the festival of Chanukah.

So do Karaite Jews celebrate Chanuka? If not, why not? It is based on a Jewish, plainly written source which is beyond the pale of the rabbinic canon.


2 Answers 2


Traditionally Karaites have not celebrated Hanukkah. (sources). In modern times, assimilation being what it is, there are undoubtedly some who do, but it's not on the Karaite calendar.

The Karaites had two main objections:

  1. The Rabbis did not have the authority to establish a holiday (Purim is different, you can read about the karaite take on that here).
  2. The rededication of the temple was tragically short lived - the Jews didn't keep the temple for too much longer.

Therefore, the karaites never adopted Hanukkah as a holiday.


The Karaite website "Hannukah: Have the Jewish People Been Celebrating a Pagan Holiday?" gives sources about the question. However, it does not give a definitive answer. The Karaite calendar shows no holiday during the period that Chanukah would fall in 2014 as well as 2015. It does show Rosh Chodesh Teves (as 10th New Moon). This would seem to imply that they do not celebrate Chanukah.

I checked both 2014 and 2015 to see Pesach and found that neither Purim nor Chanukah are shown on the calendar

UPDATE I did find references to Karaite celebration of Purim, with the dates listed at a different Karaite site, but there is no reference to Chanukah at all. The calendar includes the fasts of Tzom Gedaliah, Asara B'Teves, and several others in Tamuz and Av that are different from the ones that we have. I do not know if this is the same or different than the other calendar that I found above. This calendar includes the modern celebrations of Yom Hashoah and Yom Ha'atzmaut as well.

It appears from the references that Karaism accepts all celebrations that existed before the complete Tanach was canonized by the Anshei Knesset Hag'dolah. This would mean that Purim (Megilas Esther) is included but Chanukah is not (since it occured after the Anshei Knesset Hag'dolah no longer existed).

I do not know if these web sites are that of the real Karaites or the sites of modern creations.

  • One of my fellow congregants who is a proclaimed Karaite told me that they celebrate Purim as it is written in Tana"ch, but not Chanukah. As I said, he is "proclaimed" so he may not know everything exactly. Or, I may have misunderstood what he told me. I'll see if I can find out the real deal from him,
    – DanF
    Commented Dec 3, 2015 at 2:38
  • Thanks for the info! This does not answer the second portion of the question, but its a great start!
    – Baby Seal
    Commented Dec 3, 2015 at 2:38
  • @DanF please ask him judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/65921/…!
    – Baby Seal
    Commented Dec 3, 2015 at 2:40
  • Fasts in the months of Tamuz, Av, Tishrei, and Tevet are mentioned in tanach, so no surprise that they are observed. Commented Dec 5, 2015 at 20:41
  • @SkinnyJ I had misunderstood Karaism to be like some other groups that ended the acceptance after Yehoshua, rather than the entire Tanach (including Megilsa Esther). Thank you for pointing out my misteak. Commented Dec 6, 2015 at 0:46

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