You probably know this week many Jews are lighting candles for 8 nights and exchanging gifts.
You might not know, Hanukkah is about a Jewish civil war over assimilation versus loyalty to Jewish monotheism. In 165 B.C.E. the land we know today as Israel was controlled by the Greek forces of Alexander the Great. Being Greek, with its emphasis on worshipping nature and the body was in vogue. Worshipping one God was superstitious nonsense. Many Jews at the time had adapted and assimilated into Greek culture. They jettisoned their Jewish commitments. They allowed the holy temple to be abused and despoiled.
There were other Jews who were loyal to their tradition who decided to attack their fellow Jews and the Greeks to reclaim the temple, more importantly, to reassert monotheism.
This civil war and the success of Judah Maccabee and his compatriots set the tone for the survival of monotheism and the eventual creation of Christianity and Islam, all of whom stubbornly continue to proclaim the one God.
The word Hanukkah means rededication. The temple in Jerusalem was rededicated to the one God Jews believed was at work in this world. The oil to light the menorah, supposed to last one day, lasted 8 days.
As a skeptical religious romantic, I light the candles this week to remember and proclaim again our hope against hope in the one God.