The story of the Maccabees is one often recounted in Catholic worship and it has always been a favorite of mine. pl
"The Festival of Lights' history begins almost two and a half millennia ago, when Antiochus, a Syrian king, ruled Judea. He attempted to assimilate the Jews into Greek culture, commanding them to worship Greek gods while oppressing Jewish culture and religion. One priest in particular, Mattathias, was asked to participate in a ceremony of bowing to an idol and eating the flesh of a pig, both forbidden acts. He refused, but another villager stepped forward and volunteered to do it instead. Angered, Mattathias killed the man and the officer who had asked him to take part in the ceremony. His five sons and other villagers followed suit and killed the other soldiers.
Mattathias' family went into hiding and were soon joined by a large number of Jews who wanted to fight the Greeks. A year later, Mattathias died, but before he passed away, he put his son, Judah Maccabbee, in charge. Led by Judah Maccabee and his brothers, the Jewish people, after a three-year struggle, overthrew their Syrian oppressors.
When they reclaimed Jerusalem's Temple, the Hebrews found it defiled by statues of the Greek gods and other religious artifacts. As part of their campaign of oppression, the Greeks had systematically defiled any Jewish religious item they could find. The Hebrews cleared out the foreign icons and rededicated the temple on the 25th day of Kislev. When the time came to light the N'er Tamid, the Eternal Light of the Temple, the Jews could find only one sanctified jar of oil marked with the seal of the High Priest. It was only enough to last one evening. The lamp was lit with this small jar of oil and, miraculously, stayed lit for eight days, until more oil suitable for the temple was made."
Happy Hanukkah. pl