In this age of commercialism and secularism, let us not forget the true meaning of Chanukah...
...bloody vengeance on our oppressors!
Heh. Sorry, I couldn't resist. I made this Chanukah/Hanukkah card for my friend Jess, who has a similar sense of humor to mine. It depicts Judith, daughter of Yochanan, cutting off the head of Holofernes.
The midrash says that when the Seleucids were occupying Israel and oppressing the Jews, one of the things they did was insist that every virgin had to sleep with their general, Holofernes, before their wedding night. So brave Yehudit (Judith) went out to the enemy camp and seduced Holofernes. She fed him salty cheese to make him thirsty, then gave him so much wine that he passed out drunk. Then she cut off his head and took it back to the Jews. When they saw their general decapitated by the hand of a woman, the enemy troops fled, and the city and its virgins were delivered.
The whole point of Chanuka is to celebrate the victory of the Maccabees, who rebelled and threw out the Seleucids (Syrians) who were oppressing the Jews and defiling our Temple. The Yehudit story takes place during the Maccabean Revolt, and to this day many Jews have a custom to eat salty cheese at Chanuka to commemorate Yehudit.
The Hebrew text says:
horizontal - "They too were included in the miracle", a text from the Gemara, Shabbat 23a, which explains that women also light candles at Chanuka because Yehudit, a woman, was part of the miracle
vertical - "The daughter of Yochanan ... cut off his head" - a quote from the Ran on Shabbat 23a
So forget all that peace and forgiveness rubbish, and remember the true spirit of the season, folks - our G-d kicked Syrian butt!