Eight-day Jewish festival of Hanukkah begins with candle lighting

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Jews are celebrating the eight-day festival of Hanukkah with traditions that commemorate ancient miracles and symbolize triumph over oppression.

The holiday began after sundown Tuesday with families gathering to light the first nightly candle of ceremonial lamps and to exchange gifts. In Israel, some display the lamps in special windproof glass boxes outside.

Hanukkah, also known as the festival of lights, commemorates the Jewish uprising in the second century B.C. against the Greek-Syrian kingdom — which tried to force its culture on Jews and desecrated the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.

The holiday lasts eight days because, according to tradition, when the Jews rededicated the Temple in Jerusalem, one vial of oil, enough for one day, burned for eight.

Oily foods like fried potato pancakes or doughnuts are eaten in commemoration.