That was the year the Jews reclaimed the Temple. Three years earlier, they had been attacked and lost, Judaism was outlawed and the Temple was trashed. Then, with Judas Maccabeus leading them, the Jews fought and won,regaining their land. It was the 25th of the month of Kislev. They cleaned out the Temple and wanted to rededicate it to God by lighting the lamps for eight days straight for a celebration of joy. To do that, they needed pure, sacred, oil.
They searched and searched but could only find enough sacred oil to light the lamps for one night. They decided to do that, but miracle of miracles, the oil lasted for eight days. This is the Festival of Hanukkah. A menorah holds eight candles, one for each night the oil burned, plus a center candle to light the others. Each night, starting on the first night of Hanukkah, another candle is lit.
The story is told in the books of First and Second Maccabees. Both books are part of the Roman Catholic Bible but not part of the Protestant Bible.
The Israelis lost their final battle about a hundred years later, when the Temple was destroyed and the Jews routed. Those who survived went to other countries. They took their religion and their festivals with them. In 1948, the modern State of Israel was established where the Temple had been destroyed. Today, the population of Israel is about 8 million. Israel is about the same as New Jersey in land size and population.
The 25th of Kislev occurs from late November to late December. The food is the same from the original festival. Modern tradition is to give a gift on each successive night, with the most valuable gifts coming on the last day of Hanukkah.