As we enjoy the Jewish Festival of Light – Chanukah, we can make a comparison with another festival and learn the following lesson. The two most joyous Jewish festivals are arguably Chanukah and Purim, but there is one significant difference between the two. On Purim we are obligated to make a mishteh – a feast, on Chanukah there is no such obligation. Why is this? Don’t Jewish people usually adhere to feasting on all Jewish festivals?!
The answer that is brought down by the sages is that on Chanukah there is no mitzvah of making a feast because of what the Maccabis became. The Chanukah story is a fight over the ideals of Hellenism and Judaism. Assimilation and standing apart as proud Jews. The Maccabis symbolised the stability of Judaism by their resentment of assimilation. However, as the priestly generations descended, (in more ways than one) their holiness subsequently degenerated and their hellenisation increased.
It is for this reason that we do not have the obligation to feast on Chanukah to remind us to keep up our standards and not degenerate and thereby lose our Jewish identity.