Hanukkah celebrates the Maccabees’ victory over Syrian-Greek forces led by Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 165 BCE.
It began on 9 December and is particularly celebrated in Israel for the Festival of Lights, the eight nights that culminate in Hanukkah. The holiday celebrates the Maccabees’ victory over Syrian-Greek forces led by Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 165 BCE.
While living under Greek rule, the Maccabees prevailed against enemy armies in a 16-day war, briefly liberating their people from tyranny. For eight nights they were able to light a lamp made of oil only for one day, a leftover special oil flask left behind by the Maccabees, but refilled after nine days. They won their freedom and the Greek-held Temple in Jerusalem was rededicated by the ancient Jewish community in 25 BCE.
Video: Hanukkah celebrations in the UK
Hanukkah, or Lighting the Menorah in English, is the eight-day festival in which the Maccabees establish the Hanukkah tradition of lighting the special menorah they have prepared. For the first night of the festival, they call for the extinguishing of all but the eight candles of the menorah. It is a celebration of the victory of the Maccabees, of independence for their people and of hope that day to a better and brighter future for them.