The holiday of Hanukkah (or Chanukah) at its basis is the celebration of light over darkness; good over evil. Back in the day (second century BCE more or less), the Holy Land was ruled by Syrian-Greeks. Instead of escaping persecution, a small group of Jewish soldiers led by Judah the Maccabee, fought for their beliefs. Against all odds, they defeated a larger and more powerful army. Once they reclaimed the Holy Temple, only one drop of oil remained that could be used to light the Temple's Menorah. This small drop of oil was only enough to last one night, but miraculously, it lasted for eight nights. This allowed the Maccabees more time to produce more oil to keep the Menorah aflame.
In order to relate on a modern level, say you iPhone had enough battery for one night, but it miraculously lasted for eight nights. This would be considered a modern Hanukkah miracle (it's actually on one of this seasons best selling Hanukkah cards).
So, let's get to the fun stuff about Hanukkah. First, hands down the best Hanukkah song to ever be written.
Eight Nights, Eight Chances to Get It Right
Perhaps the best reason (today) we have eight nights of Hanukkah, is to make sure we get the gift just right. It was not always about gifts, in fact, it's more about doing a good deed or performing a mitzvah. But nowadays it has turned into a gift giving holiday. So look at the bright side, if on the first few nights of Hanukkah your essential oils, mani-pedi gift cards, and house slippers aren't hitting home runs, let us help. There may be eight nights, but it only takes one to sparkle.
Lots of Latkes
One of the traditional foods to eat on Hanukkah is the latke (pronounced "lot-key" or "lot-ka"). It is a deep fried potato pancake (often with onions). If you've never had one, you are definitely missing out. One of the best places in town to get a fresh homemade latke is Kenny & Ziggys.
Back to the Light
We can all take away valuable lessons from the roots of Hanukkah. At the most basic level, the light from the menorah signifies the light over darkness (very similar to the Hindu festival Diwali). Even more so when since the lit menorah is to be placed in a front window lighting a path in the darkness of the streets. The victory of Judah and his small group of fighters defying the odds and beating a bigger and stronger opponent is something we can all relate to. We teach our children to never back down, to stand up for what we believe in, and if we are determined to do something, we can do it.