The Jewish celebration of Hanukkah, also called the Festival of Lights, begins this year tonight, Dec. 8, at sundown.
In the Hebrew lunar calendar, Hanukkah is celebrated on the 25th day of the month of Kislev. Hanukkah runs for eight days and will conclude this year on the night of Dec. 16.
What is Hanukkah?
Hanukkah is a celebration commemorating the Maccabean Revolt, a battle between the Jews and the Seleucids, who ruled Israel more than 2,000 years ago.
The Jews drove the Seleucids out of Jerusalem and reclaimed their desecrated holy temple, according to the Chabad-Lubavitch Media Center.
The victors found a one-day supply of olive oil that had not been contaminated by the Seleucids and used it to light the temple menorah. The miracle of Hanukkah is that the oil, which was supposed to last for only one day, burned strong for eight days, hence the length of time Hanukkah is celebrated today.
The Festival of Lights is observed in modern times by lighting a candle on the menorah on each of the eight nights. Other customs include eating traditional foods made from oil including potato latkes and deep fried donuts known as sufganiyot, and playing with a spinning top called a dreidel, which is inscribed with the Hebrew acronym for "A great miracle happened there."
Los Angeles has the second largest population of Jews in the country, with some 519,200 living there, according to a 2011 report by the North American Jewish Data Bank. New York has a population of 1.4 million Jews.
Does your family celebrate Hanukkah? Tell us how in the comments section below.