The Story of Hanukkah

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The Hanukkah holiday is an old one. It honors the struggle of ancient Jews to restore the Temple of Jerusalem.

Long ago, Judea was ruled by the Syrian king Antiochus, who said that Jews should give up worshipping Yahweh and worship the Greek gods instead.

The Jews didn't like this. They refused to abandon Yahweh. They decided to do something about it.

A man named Judah Maccabee got a group of people together to fight back. These people got more people to join, and they soon had an army.

They fought back. For three years, the Jews battled the Syrians for control of Judea. Finally, the Jews won.

They cleaned the Temple of Jerusalem, removing all Greek symbols and restoring the Jewish symbols. The job was finished on the 25th day of the month of Kislev. This is the day that the eight-day Hanukkah celebration ends. The day varies in the Western calendar. In 2025, that day is January 2 (and the Eight Days starts on December 25, 2024).

To help celebrate, Judah and his followers lit an oil lamp. The supply of oil was very low, but this lamp stayed lit for eight days.

To honor this extraordinary event, Jews today celebrate the Eight Days of Hanukkah and call it the "Festival of Lights." They light a special eight-candle device called a menorah.

People today give each other gifts, make special foods, have special dinners, and remember their ancestors, who fought to take their temple back.

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