Originally published in Journal de Montréal on December 12, 2009.
The great Jewish festival of Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the altar of offerings in the Holy Temple of Jerusalem, following an important military victory against the enemies of Israel in 165 BC.
According to tradition, it is during this religious ceremony that the miracle of the flask of oil occurs: A quantity of oil, which should have normally only lasted for a single day, burned continuously for eight days. This is the reason why the festival of Hanukkah lasts for eight days.
This festival starts on the 25th day of Kislev as per the Hebrew calendar, and it normally falls in November or December on the Gregorian calendar. Today being 12th December 2009, it is the second day of Hanukkah.
To commemorate the miracle of the oil, a candle is lit each day in the menorah, which is the special nine-branched candelabrum. During this entire period, delicacies fried or baked in olive oil are also served.