Hanukkah, an Age Old Holiday that Celebrates the ‘Eight-Day Miracle’

El Vaquero Staff Writer

Menorahs, dreidels, gifts and other joyous things are vital elements of the eight-day-and- night Jewish celebration known as Hanukkah, which begins at sundown on Dec. 19 and continues until sundown Dec. 27. The Jewish faith is one of the oldest religions, we are in year 5764 in the Jewish calendar, and the beginnings of Hanukkah are one of its most memorable moments.

The beginning of Hanukkah begins in 165 B.C.E (the Jewish people use BCE, before the common era, and CE, common era, instead of BC and AD.) when a Greek army occupied Israel appointed King Antiochus, a Syrian, became in charge of the land. He was infuriated that the Jewish people were monotheists, which is the belief in only one god, and forced them to worship Greek gods, despite the apprehension of the Jewish people.
The final straw came when Greek soldiers assembled many Jews together and asked a high priest named Mattathias to bow to a Greek idol and eat the flesh of a pig, both forbidden to the Jews. Mattathias refused but another villager came forward and offered to take his place.

Mattathias became outraged, took out his sword and killed the man, then killed the officer. His five sons and the other villagers then attacked and killed the soldiers.

Mattathias and his family went into hiding in the nearby mountains with a horde of other Jews who also wanted to fight the Greeks. They attacked the Greek soldiers whenever possible.

About a year after the rebellion began, Mattathias died and left his brave son Judah Maccabee in charge of the growing army. The Jews bravely fought and defeated the Greek army three years later, despite having fewer weapons and men.

Judah Maccabee and his soldiers returned to the holy temple, where it had all began, and to their sadness many things were broken and missing, including the golden menorah, a very sacred symbol of Judaism.
The Maccabees restored the Temple, and decided to have a big dedication ceremony with the lighting of the menorah.

They looked everywhere for oil, and only found a small flask that contained enough oil to light the menorah only for a day. Miraculously, the oil lasted eight days and gave the Maccabee’s enough time to obtain new oil to keep the menorah lit.

Today, people celebrate Hanukkah for eight days. The candles are lit night to night beginning with the middle candle the first night on the menorah commemorating the eight-day miracle.