It seems that throughout history, the Hebrews have had periods of self rule alternating with occupation. During at least one of these occupations the rulers promised to let the Jews observe their religious customs and traditions and they did for a while. But, as rulers often do, they reneged on their promise and desecrated the Holy Temple in Jerusalem even erecting an alter to Zeus and butchering pigs. Eventually, the Hebrews got organized and kicked them out.
Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BC. After the forces of Antiochus IV had been driven from the Temple, the Maccabees discovered that almost all of the ritual olive oil had been profaned. They found only a single container that was still sealed by the High Priest, with enough oil to keep the menorah in the Temple lit for a single day. They used this, yet it burned for eight days (the time it took to have new oil pressed and made ready). Hence, Hanukkah is celebrated for eight nights and days.
I have Jewish friends and relatives and feel at least somewhat connected to the Jewish people.
Both Jews and Irish have faced oppression and occupation and we have persevered.
Christian and Jew also share a spiritual heritage. David, Abraham and Moses are fathers to us all, our Judeo-Christian heritage makes us more alike than not. Jesus, was a Jewish carpenter.
So, while I do not understand Hanukkah like someone who grew up celebrating it, I will celebrate it now.
May this Hanukkah season bring you peace, happiness, and love.
I'll close with my own Irish Hanukkah blessing: