The significance of the "lights" in Chanukah is...
It would be in the second century B.C. that the story of Judas Maccabee and a small force of Jews faced off against the occupying Syrian-Greeks who were attempting to force the people of Israel to accept the Greek culture and gods. The Greeks wanted the Israelis to give up the mitzvah and their belief in the One, True, God (Kahana, 2019).
In the village of Modiin the priest Mattityahu lived, when the Greeks erected an altar and demanded he offer a sacrifice to their gods, Mattityahu refused. When the Greek commander brought up a Hellenist priest, Mattityahu drew his sword and killed the false priest. His sons and friends then rushed the Greeks, chasing them off and killing several more (1 Mac 2:23-25). So began the revolt of the Maccabees (Mindel, 1965). Judas Maccabee, son of Mattityahu, led the revolt – but knowing the Greeks would come back seeking revenge, they hid in the mountains from which they conducted their attacks.
It would take three years for Judas Maccabee and his small force to chase the far superior Greek armies from the Holy Land. To accomplish this, they used guerilla warfare, attacking the Greeks at night and their only weapons were pitchforks and swords (Brewer, 2021). When the Maccabees liberated and cleared the temple of idols and when they went to light the menorah, there was only one cruse of blessed olive oil, sealed by the High Priest, Yochanan – only enough for one day and the process for blessing new oil takes 8 days. They lit the lamp and began the preparation of new oil – and the one lamp stayed lit for the entire eight days! (Mindel, 1965).
The scriptural reference for this account is found in 1 Maccabees 2-3.
The Jewish people were fighting for their very identity, Had the Syrian-Greeks prevailed, Jewish culture would have been obliterated. This renewal of the Jewish faith allows for their culture to prevail and lays the path for Jesus to be born a Jew, live as a Jew, and die as a Jew. In a sense, Christmas owes a debt to Chanukah! Certainly, had the Jews been defeated, God would have used a different means to bring the Messiah into the world – but He did not have to, because God allowed the Maccabees to be victorious some 200 years before Jesus was born.
Brewer, D. (2021). Hankukkah, The Festival of Lights. Life in Messiah. https://lifeinmessiah.org/feasts-hanukkah
Kahana, Y. (2019). What is Chanukah? A reminder that light can transform darkness. Jewish National Fund. https://www.jnf.org/blog/education/what-is-chanukah-a-reminder-that-light-can-transform-darkness
Mindel, N. (1965). Complete Story of Chanukah. Chabad.org https://www.chabad.org/holidays/chanukah/article_cdo/aid/102978/jewish/The-Story-of-Chanukah.htm