Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish festival celebrated around the world each year. During Hanukkah, Jewish people remember the miraculous victory of a small band of Jewish warriors, known as Maccabees, over the oppressive Syrian-Greeks in the year 165 BCE. Central to the holiday is the lighting of the Hanukkah menorah – a special eight-branched candelabrum with an additional, raised branch. With each night, one candle is added to the menorah and is lit with blessings. But how many Hanukkah candles do you need?
The number of Hanukkah candles used for each night of the holiday is actually quite straightforward. In total, you will need a total of 45 candles (one for each night plus the additional, raised branch). The first night one candle is lit, the second night two candles, the third night three, and so on up to the eighth night when eight candles are lit simultaneously. While the traditional Hanukkah Menorah uses beeswax candles, for convenience many people opt for the pre-filled liquid fuel candles that come in a set of 45.
So, what about the additional, raised ninth candle which is used to light the other candles? Commonly referred to as the Shamash (helper) candle, this candle always remains in the ninth holder and is used to light the other candles. Its purpose is two-fold: first, the shamash is lit first, setting the stage for the blessing that is said before kindling the other candles. Second, it provides enough light that the other candles can remain lit for at least half-an-hour, long enough to recite all the prayers and blessings and fulfill the custom of ‘lighting by night’.
Hanukkah candles come in many shapes and sizes. Most come in colors of dark blue, white, or light blue. Furthermore, you can find an array of candles with different designs and themes. From modern sizes and shapes to more ornate options for a traditional touch, there really is something for every Hanukkah celebration.
While the light from Hanukkah candles is quite symbolic of liberation, the significance of the number of candles is just as important. In total, 45 candles are needed to fulfill the Hanukkah tradition. Whether you choose beeswax, oil, liquid fuel, or a combination of the three, you now know that you will need to stock up on 45 candles!
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Last update 2023-11-22. Price and product availability may change.