Observant Jews in the Southland will light candles at sundown tomorrow to mark the first day of Hanukkah, the eight-day “Festival of Lights” commemorating the Maccabees’ victory over a larger Syrian army in 165 B.C. Once the Jews defeated the Hellenist Syrian forces of Antiochus IV at the end of a three-year rebellion, the temple in Jerusalem, which the occupiers had dedicated to the worship of Zeus, was rededicated by Judah Maccabee, who had led the insurgency launched by his father, the high priest Mattathias. Maccabee and his soldiers, who wanted to light the temple’s ceremonial lamp with ritually pure olive oil as part of their rededication, found only enough oil to burn for one day. But, in what was regarded as a miracle, the oil burned for eight days. Hanukkah — it means dedication in Hebrew — is observed around the world by the lighting of candles in a Hanukkah menorah each day at sundown for eight days, with an additional candle added each day. In the United States, the tradition of giving children Hanukkah “gelt” (the Yiddish word for money) has evolved into a gift-giving holiday to prevent Jewish children from feeling left out of Christmas gift-giving. Unlike the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year, or Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, observant Jews are permitted to work and attend school during Hanukkah, which, in Judaism, is regarded as a relatively minor holiday. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREPettersson scores another winner, Canucks beat KingsThe reason for the lights is so passers-by should see them and be reminded of the holiday’s miracle. Other Hanukkah traditions include spinning a dreidel, a four-sided top, which partially commemorates a game that Jews under Greek domination played to camouflage their Torah study, and eating foods fried in olive oil, such as potato pancakes and jelly doughnuts. Hanukkah’s official acceptance in the United States has grown in recent years, with the U.S. Postal Service issuing the first in a series of Hanukkah stamps in 1996. A Hanukkah menorah — it is called a Hanukiah and differs from a traditional menorah by having nine branches, instead of seven — was first lit in the White House in 2001, which now has become an annual practice.