Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish holiday celebrated each year to mark the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. At the center of the holiday is the traditional lighting of the nine-branched menorah, or Hanukkiah. But what is the candle thing that is lit during the Hanukkah celebrations?
The menorah is a special candelabrum that is lit to celebrate the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days. In ancient times, the menorah was made of gold and silver, but now it can be made from a variety of materials, including glass, wood, and metal. A Hanukkiah usually has nine arms and nine candles, representing the eight days of Hanukkah plus the shamash—a special candle used to light the other candles.
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The Hanukkah Candles
The traditional Hanukkah candles are made from beeswax, and they come in two distinct shapes: straight and curled. The straight candles are the most commonly used and are used to light the Hanukkiah. On the first night of Hanukkah, one candle is lit in the far left branch to signify the start of the holiday. On each successive night, another candle is lit.
Curled candles, also known as dreidels, are also used in the celebration of Hanukkah, but they are usually intended for use in the custom of spinning and playing dreidel games. Dreidels come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, and they are usually constructed of wax or plastic. The dreidel custom dates back to the ancient times, and it is still enjoyed by many families today!
Lighting the Candles
The lighting of the Hanukkah Menorah is a special and meaningful ritual that is usually carried out by the head of the household. In order to ensure that the nine-day ritual is easy to remember, the candles are lit progressively from left to right, starting with the shamash.
On each night of the Hanukkah celebration, a special blessing is said before the candles are lit. The blessings are as follows:
The First Night of Hanukkah
- Blessed are You, Lord our God, ruler of the universe, who sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to kindle the Hanukkah lights.
Subsequent Nights of Hanukkah
- Blessed are You, Lord our God, ruler of the universe, who has kept us in life and sustained us and enabled us to reach this season.
Hanukkah candles have a deep symbolic significance and important place in Jewish tradition. They remind us of the brave Maccabees, who fought against all odds to reclaim the Holy Temple; they also remind us of the miracle of the oil that lasted for eight days. Lighting the menorah is a beautiful ritual that brings joy and celebration to the Jewish people each year.
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Last update 2023-11-21. Price and product availability may change.