Hanukkah - the Jewish festival of lights - started, all across the world, with the lighting of the first menorah on 8 December. The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days and, as per the Hebrew calendar, starts on the 25th day of Kislev.

The word Hanukkah means "dedication" or "induction" and the festival is celebrated with reverence by the Jewish community across the world with the lighting of the first candle of the Menorah - a nine-branched candelabra. And, according to tradition, an additional branch will be lit every successive night, up until the final night of the ritual.

According to Jewish theology, Hanukkah is based on two miracles dating back thousands of years. The first is the victory of a small Jewish Army called "Maccabees", against the Greeks, who tried to forcibly convert Israelis to Polytheism. It also denotes the re-dedication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, after it was desecrated by Greek invaders.

The second miracle centres on the amount of oil in the original tale. The story is that there was only enough for one night but somehow the candle burned for the full eight days.

In London, a giant Hanukkah menorah was on display in Trafalgar Square, complete with lit candles. A similar ceremony was held in New York City, where a 32ft tall Hanukkah menorah at the Grand Army Plaza was lit. The city's Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, noted the importance of the occasion, given the destruction wrecked by Hurricane Sandy.

"Chanukah is a special time of year to spend with friends and family, and it's a story of strength in the face of adversity and moral courage in the face of injustice. In recent weeks, the people of New York have also had our strength and spirit tested. Our city braved one of the most devastating storms ever seen on the East Coast, and New Yorkers of every background and from every borough have stepped up in amazing ways to help their neighbors," Bloomberg said in the statement, according to NBC, "New York is a city where, even in the toughest of times, we have faith in the future. As New Yorkers light the menorah tonight, I wish them a Happy Chanukah."

Check out photographs of Hanukkah - the Jewish festival of lights - celebrations from across the world...

Ultra-Orthodox Jews light a candle for Hanukkah in AshdodReuters
Ultra-Orthodox Jews dance after lighting candles for Hanukkah in AshdodReuters
Members of Hungary's Jewish community gather to celebrate Hanukkah and to light the first candle on the menorah in downtown BudapestReuters
An ultra-Orthodox Jew lights a candle for Hanukkah in AshdodReuters
Members of Hungary's Jewish community gather to celebrate Hanukkah and to light the first candle on the menorah in downtown BudapestReuters
An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man casts a shadow near candles lit for Hanukkah in AshdodReuters
Members of Hungary's Jewish community gather to celebrate Hanukkah and to light the first candle on the menorah in downtown BudapestReuters
Rabbis Segal and Teichtal of Orthodox Jewish Chabad Lubawitsch community bless menorah after erecting it in front of Brandenburg Gate in Berlin ahead of Hanukkah celebrationsReuters