Har, yes I'm afraid the 2nd century BCE was a pretty rough time compared to today. Of course in the long run the assimilated Jews won, which is great as far as I'm concerned.
Oh, and my opinion on the miracle itself is that the priest just lied and used regular oil (duh). Still, its a fun holiday for my family and we're having a nice brisket with homemade jelly donuts to celebrate. Happy holidays!
The reality is that Hanukkah is about the wholesale slaughter of assimilated Jews, who were becoming essentially Greek at the time, which really pissed off the devout traditionalist Jews:
That's exactly right. It's the old anti-assimilationist highland whackos angry about the cosmopolitan valley and city-dwellers becoming Hellenized. A common theme in the Bible.
"Them gosh-darn city folk with their foreign jiggery-pokery, ruinin' the purity of our dear Land and Lord."
And, of course, the Highland Fundamentalists being pushed out of the Temple Leadership positions. The Macabees wanted their old Graft Position back so they could change dirty foreign gold and silver for Temple Shekels (purity and weight varying according to how much they could get away wth).
Also, Hanukkah is NOT an important Jewish Holiday, traditionally. Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Passover are the big Three.
Hanukkah's modern importance has more to do with the proximity to Christmas than anything else.
My favorite holiday. The closest this big city kid got to the great outdoors, when the temple put buildings out in the park and we had a picnic out there. I remember listening to the 1986 Dream Team Mets at the playoffs out in the building.