Hanukkah is a joyous yearly festival spanning eight days and nights that is celebrated by Jews around the world. The holiday commemorates the successful Jewish revolt led by Judah Maccabee against the oppressive government of Antiochus IV in 165 B.C.
Hanukkah is the Hebrew word for "dedication." Tradition relates how a miracle took place during the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem, which had been desecrated: The remaining supply of sacramental oil, thought to be enough for only one day, burned for eight.
The eight days and nights of Hanukkah begin on the 25th of Kislev in the Hebrew calendar (in November or December). Today, family members gather each night during the festival to light candles on a special candleholder called a menorah.
Other Hanukkah traditions include singing, the exchange of gifts and the spinning of the dreidel, a four-sided top. Dreidels commonly bear a Hebrew letter on each side, the first letters of a phrase meaning, "a great miracle happened there." Children typically use chocolate gelt (coins) to make a bet on the outcome of each spin of the dreidel.