The eight day holiday celebrates the release from oppression from the Hellenistic Syrians in about 160 B.C. They celebrated victory with the lighting of the Menorah, though they only had enough oil to burn for one night. Miraculously, the flame burned for eight nights. Carol Woodruff is director of co-curricular programming and cultural outreach at East Carolina University in Greenville. She says though it has definitely gained popularity with Jewish children, Hanukkah is not the most prominent holiday in the Jewish calendar. The dreidel was originally used for a Jewish gambling game at a time when reading the Torah and worshipping were forbidden.