“The Jewish holiday Hanukkah is upon us, and to mark the eight-day holiday, dignitaries will gather to light the National Menorah across from the White House, and families will light their own nine-armed menorahs, known as Hanukkiot, one candle per day for eight days.
“Although Hanukkah today is one of the most popular and recognizable of Jewish holidays, this is only a relatively recent development, one rooted in American history and culture.
“The eight-day festival commemorates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after the Maccabees defeated the Greek rulers in the second century B.C.
“As part of the purification of the Temple, Jews lit an oil-based menorah. Although they had only enough oil for one day, so the story goes, it lasted for eight.
“This is what the Hanukkah rituals, including lighting candles or oil, celebrate.”
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