Hanukkah (also known as Chanukah) is an eight-day Jewish holiday that celebrates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and commemorates the miraculous victory of the ancient Jewish people. One of the most important symbols of Hanukkah is the Hanukkah menorah, a special nine-branched candelabra. But what is the name of the candle holder used for Hanukkah?
The candle holder used for Hanukkah, commonly known as a menorah, has its roots in antiquity, and was used in the ancient Temple of Jerusalem. This multi-branched candelabra was used to symbolize the candles lit in memory of Judah Maccabee defeating Antiochus IV in the second century BC. Its candles, representing each day of Hanukkah, serve as a reminder of the miracle of the oil which burned for 8 days instead of the usual 1 day. Traditionally, the menorah consists of 8 branches in which to place the Hanukkah candles, plus a ninth, usually “shamash” meaning “servant”, in which a separate candle was lit each night in order to light the other candles. Today the Hanukkah menorah is also known as the Hanukiah.
The Hanukiah, as it is now known, is a ritual object used during the celebration of Hanukkah. The word “Hanukiah” is derived from the Hebrew word for “dedication,” and is a reference to the rededication of the Holy Temple. While most Hanukiyah will have the standard 8 candles and the shamash, some modern designs vary in shape such as the nine-branched Menorah in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem and more intricate versions with 7, 8, 11, 12, 13 or 15 branches.
The Hanukiah is typically lit during the first night of Hanukkah after reciting a blessing over the proper number of candles. On each night following, an additional candle is lit in succession until all 8 candles are lit on the eighth night.
In summary, the candle holder used for the special Jewish holiday Hanukkah is known by many names, including the Chanukiah and the Hanukkah menorah. This special multi-branched candelabra is used to symbolize the eight days of the festival, with nine branches, including a distinct ninth candle, the shamash. The name Hanukiah is derived from the Hebrew word for “dedication” and serves as a reminder of the miracle of the oil which burned for 8 days instead of the usual 1 day. Hanukiahs come in traditional and modern designs with various number of branches, allowing for a range of expressions for the celebration of Hanukkah.
No matter what version one chooses, lighting the Hanukiah is a meaningful way to honor the biblical story of the Maccabees and their victory as well as to celebrate the eight days of Hanukkah with friends and family.
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Last update 2023-11-26. Price and product availability may change.