Chanuka is a Jewish festival commemorating the liberation from the Greeks. In the 2nd Century BC, Jerusalem was under Greek control. It is said the Jews were forced to pray to Greek Gods and idols. This is forbidden for Jews and so there was a resistance to the Greeks. This resistance was done by The Maccabis. They were few but were highly organised and used guerrilla warfare tactics. They managed to gather up a big enough army to defeat the Greeks and free Jerusalem.
When they reached the Temple1, they found it desecrated with Greek Idols. They cleaned it out following Kosher guidelines but could not find oil to light the eternal flame of the temple - The Menorah. This was meant to be constantly alight but had been put out by the Greeks. The nearest place to get the sacred oil for the lamp was an eight day walk. After searching for a while, they found a small pot of undesecrated oil - enough to last for about a day. The miracle of Chanuka was that this tiny pot of oil lasted for eight days, in time for new oil to be brought to the temple.
For this reason, Jews across the world light an eight candle menorah, known as a 'Chanukia' to commemorate the eight days of the miracle.
Like other festivals, Chanuka has had some irrelevant objects attached to it over the years. The Dredal is no exception, intended to entertain children and helping Jews remember the miracle. On each of its four faces is a letter to remind us 'A Great Miracle Happened There'2.
The Dredal is spun, and depending on which face lands upwards, the player either puts one or more of the chosen prize - often chocolates or nuts - into the kitty, or takes some or all of it out, and play continues in a circle.
Doughnuts and Latkes
These are another couple of add-ons developed over the years. For some reason, it is claimed oily food must be eaten to remind us of the oil. This could be just a life-reducing method by pushing up cholesterol levels. Doughnuts and Latkes3 are the two most memorable foodstuffs they've come up with until now. Chips may come up soon though...