Oil miracle birthed Festival of Lights

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Presents, traditional foods and loved ones — a sure sign of Hanukkah, the dedication of miracles.

"It's a common misconception, but Hanukkah is not the 'Jewish Christmas.' There is no parallel in Judaism," said Rabbi Bernard Gerson of Denver's Congregation Rodef Shalom. "Presents and the time of year tend to make the two holidays seem more similar than they are."

Celebrated Dec. 21 through Dec. 29 this year, Hanukkah, known as the Festival of Lights, commemorates the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrians, a miracle according to Jewish history. Hanukkah is the Hebrew word for "dedication."

The rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem had just enough consecrated oil to fuel the temple's eternal flame for one day. That one day's supply miraculously burned for eight days and nights.

"We light the menorah in remembrance," Gerson said, adding that the oil miracle is why signature Hanukkah foods are fried.

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