Jewish families observe the holiday by lightning candles, beginning with the first night of the event. Hanukkah is related to two historical events: the victory of spiritual values of Judaism over Hellenistic civilization and the triumph of Jewish Maccabees over the Seleucid Empire.
The story of the Festival of Lights is described in 1 Maccabees and 2 Maccabees books of the Talmud. According to the Talmud, three customs should be observed during the holiday: one candle should be lit each night in each household; the number of candles must be equal to the number of family members; and, in the most pious households, the number of candles is changed each night. The observance of the latter principle varies. Thus, the followers of Shamai light eight candles on the first night of the Festival of Lights and reduce their number on each successive night, while the followers of Hillel start with one candle the first night and increase their number till the eighth night.
Sometimes electrical lights are used instead of oil lamps and candles, particularly in places where an open flame is forbidden. A special eight-branch candelabrum is an integral element of the celebration. The lights aim at illuminating the house without, and not within, so that passers-by are reminded of the festival's miracle.
The eight-day Festival of Lights features the recital of three blessings on the first night of Hanukkah, and two of them on the subsequent nights. Traditional food of the festival includes potato pancakes and all varieties of doughnuts. In America some families eat french fries and fried chicken.
The holiday gained increased significance in the XX century with many Jews of the United States, who wanted an alternative to the Christmas celebrations.
Diwali is known as the Hindu Festival of Lights and the beginning of the Jain year. Regarded as one of the most important and popular events in India, Diwali is observed for five days in the Hindu month Ashwayuja, which corresponds to October or November in the Gregorian calendar. However, the date of the Diwali differs depending on the location.
The holiday is associated with the lamps, lights, and fireworks, and is celebrated as the triumph of good over evil. In North India the festival commemorates the return of the King of Ayodhya Rama and his wife Sita from the war, where he defeated the demon king Ravana. In South India Diwali honors Sathyabhama, the wife of Lord Krishna, who killed the evil demon Narakasura.
Because South Indians follow the different calendar, the festival doesn't coincide with the new year's beginning. Diwali is observed in a number of countries, including Britain, Canada, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, United Arab Emirates, Africa, the United States, and Australia.
The Festival of Lights is also related to the Albuquerque events, featuring nearly 3 million candles and lights on December 24 in honor of the diverse traditions and cultures of the city.