By edhat staff
Sunday was the first night of Hanukkah, the annual celebration that lasts eight nights and ends the evening of December 30.
Even though Hanukkah is around Christmas-time, that doesn't mean it's the "Jewish Christmas." Also known as the "Festival of Lights," Hanukkah celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in the 160s BC. After outlawing the Jewish religion and Jewish practices, then-King Antiochus IV decreed that Jews must worship Greek gods in the Temple.
Eventually, Jewish priest Mattahias, his son Judah Maccabee, and their army, The Maccabees, revolted, ultimately forcing Antiochus IV out of Judea. Maccabee and his followers reclaimed the Temple and rebuilt the altar.
When the altar was rebuilt, the Maccabees relit the menorah. The soldiers only had enough oil to light the menorah for a single night, but the story goes that the little bit of oil lasted for eight full nights. It was the "Miracle of Hanukkah" which is why the celebration lasts eight nights.
If you're interested in more facts on Hanukkah, check out the nifty graphic below created by JCC PGH.