The Maccabees have made a lasting impact on Jewish and global history, but much of their story is taught as like a myth. For even before the modern state of Israel, the Maccabees were a symbol of Jewish resistance in the face of non-Jewish oppressors and when Israel was established in the mid-20th century, they became a symbol of Jewish strength in everything from sports to the modern military. It is crucial, however, to remember the social and religious context when the Hanukkah story takes place, and that is not as cheery an origin as one would hope.
Later known as the Chashmonayim (hasmoneans), they are remembered for guerilla war on the Greeks, but that came out of a brutal civil war to win back the Jewish way of life. In this proxy conflict, King Antiochus first supported the urban, Hellenistic Jewish factions like the heretical Tobiads and Sadducees. After rededicating the Temple in Jerusalem for proper use with the oil that lasted 8 nights, the Maccabees advocated to keep fighting to regain control of the Holy Land.