Hanukkah , also known as the festival of lights is an 8 day jewish festival.
There are various different stories for the reason to celebrate Hanukkah. The original book that had the story written in Hebrew is lost. So the only way this story has been kept alive is by telling it from generation to generation on the days it is celebrated.
So, in the most simplest and basic form the story of Hanukkah, ( I say most simplest form ,since that is how it was explained to me by roommate who follows it ) goes this way.
The story which is I’m about to explain is not clearly known as to when exactly did it take place
The town of Bethulia, in the land of Judea, came under siege by Holofernes, a mighty Syrian-Greek general, at the head of a huge army Holoferns was cruel and ruthless. He showed no mercy in his punishments for even children and women. He was determined to crush the town of Bethulia, whose inhabitants refused to recognize the oppressive rule of the Syrians.
So the people of the town of bethulia fought really hard bravely and desperately to repulse the repeated assaults by the superior enemy forces, seeing that people of the town refuse to budge he decided to starve them to force them into submission.He cut off the water and food supply of the people. Hungry and thirsty, and in utter despair, the townspeople gathered in the marketplace and demanded that, rather than die of hunger and thirst, they should surrender to the enemy
Amongst all these people, there was Yehudit daughter of Yochanan the high priest. She was a young widow. It was several years since she had lost her beloved husband,Menashe, and she had devoted all her time to prayer and acts of charity ever since.
Yehudit was blessed with extraordinary charm, grace and beauty. She had a plan to overthrow this ruler.
Yehudit passed through the gates of Bethulia, dressed in her best clothes. She was accompanied by her faithful maid, who carried on her head a basket filled with rolls, cheese and several bottles of old wine.
When Yehudit and her maid wound their way toward the enemy’s camp, they were stopped by sentries, who demanded to know who they were and who sent them.
“We have an important message for your commander let us in.”and in that way she gained access to enter.
Once inside she charmed and seduced the general with food, wine and her pitiful story of being a widow and how life was difficult and unbearable for her backhome .Within a matter of few days ,she won the generals confidence and she could roam freely in his camp area.
One particular evening the general called her in alone to celebrate. This was the moment she had been waiting for. She gave him undiluted wineand fed him chunks of cheese and got him completely drunk.Once he passed out,Yehudit propped a pillow under his head and rolled him over on his face.
Now Yehudit unsheathed Holofernes’s heavy sword, and taking aim at his neck, she brought the sword down on it with all her might.
She wrapped up the general’s head in rags, concealed it under her shawl, and calmly walked out and into her own tent.
The two veiled women walked leisurely, as usual, so that no one would suspect them,until they reached the gates of the city. When she showed this back home to her people they could not believe their eyes.
Without wasting time they all went back to attack the generals army. The army upon realizing that their commander was dead had no idea what to do and ran helter skelter for their lives.This is precisely what happened.
It was a wonderful victory, and it was all because of the brave Yehudit that the entire town was saved. Its a great holiday cuz it shows the strength of women ; almost like women empowerment so many years ago.