First night begins at sundown 24 Kislev Sunday, December 22, 2019 and ends at sunset on 2 Tevet, Monday, December 30, 2019.   Hanukkah celebrates  the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrian Greeks in the second century BCE and the subsequent cleansing of the Temple in Jerusalem. The theme of religious freedom is emphasized throughout this “minor” eight day holiday. It is marked ritually by  the lighting of a Chanukiyah (eight branched candelabrum) each night along with special foods, gift giving, and celebration.