Hanukkah is a Jewish, eight-day festival celebrated each year to commemorate the Maccabean victory over the Syrian-Greeks in the second century B.C.E. This victory marked the freedom of the Jewish people from oppressive foreign rule. A central part of the Hanukkah celebration is the candle lighting that takes place on each night of the festival. But what is the candle thing called for Hanukkah?
The traditional Hanukkah lamp or hanukkiah is a special eight-branched candelabrum used during the eight days of the holiday. The word Chanukkah, or Hanukkah, is derived from the Hebrew word for “dedication” (“chanukat”). The modern equivalent of the traditional hanukkiah is a nine-branched menorah, the iconic symbol of the Jewish people.
Overview of the Hanukkiah
The traditional Hanukkiah has a base, branches, and spaces for 8 candles and a ninth candle, called the “helper” or “shamash”. The branches are typically arranged symmetrically in a row just above the base, and divided into four parts. Each branch has its own socket for a candle. The shamash is usually inserted into a special space in the center or on the side, slightly higher than the other 8 branches.
Candles and Blessing
Traditionally, Hanukkah candles are made of wax and made to look like a candle shaped cylinder. The candles must be constructed in a way that allows them to burn for at least a half an hour for each night of the holiday. On the first night of Hanukkah, only one candle is lit, on the second night two candles are lit, and so on until the last night of Hanukkah, when all eight candles are lit. The lights of the hanukkiah are kindled after the completion of evening prayers and prior to the recitation of the Hanukkah blessings.
Blessing of Hanukkah
The blessing of Hanukkah is a traditional prayer recited when lighting the candles on each night of the festival. The text of the Hanukkah blessing is wise, poetic and loaded with spiritual meaning. The blessing commences by praising God according to the day and week of the festival and proceeds to celebrate the special miracle of oil that lasted for eight days. The blessing ends by asking the main purpose of lighting the candles, “the honor of miracles and wonders” to be fulfilled and for God’s name to be remembered, sanctified and praised.
The candle lighting of the hanukkiah is a central part of the Hanukkah celebration. On each night of the holiday, Jews around the world light the Hanukkiah to celebrate and remember the freedom of the Jewish people from foreign oppression. The special eight-branched candelabrum used in the Hanukkah celebrations is known as a hanukkiah. Candles are placed on each branch, and a blessing is said as they are lit. The candle lighting of Hanukkah is a powerful reminder of the strength and courage of the Maccabees, the Jewish heroes of the Hanukkah story.
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Last update 2023-11-22. Price and product availability may change.