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In Judaism, a holiday celebrating the rededication of the Second Temple of Jerusalem in 164 BC, after its desecration three years earlier by order of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. The Maccabees recaptured Jerusalem and reconsecrated the Temple after leading a successful revolt against Syrian rule. The lighting of the menorah recalls the story that a one-day supply of oil burned miraculously in the Temple for eight days until new oil could be obtained. Sometimes called the Feast of Dedication or Feast of Lights, it is celebrated for eight days in December, during which the ceremonial candles are lit and children play games and receive gifts. Originally a minor holiday, it has become more lavishly celebrated as a result of its proximity to Christmas.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Hanukkah, visit Britannica.com.