Hanukkah Candles

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Hanukkah Candles Guide

Hanukkah, commonly known as the "Festival of Lights," commemorates the amazing miracle following the Maccabean Revolt in the 2nd century BCE. The name "Hanukkah" in Hebrew means "to dedicate", and this joyous holiday celebrates the rededication of the second Temple, after the first one was destroyed by the Romans. The miracle of this rededication involves a small amount of oil found in the Temple lasting a miraculous eight days allowing the Temple to be cleaned and rededicated. A unique menorah or candelabrum is used that has nine branches, and eight candles are lit one for each night, the ninth candle is for the "shamash" or attendant used to light the other candles. Today, Hanukkah candles come in a variety of colors and styles. The famous northern city of Safed, come in an amazing array of blues, whites, silvers, and even rainbow colors! Each candle is handmade in natural beeswax providing a beautiful candle and an amazing natural fragrance.

Hanukkah Candles

Each night of Hanukkah the "shamash" or helper candle is lit to represent each night of this miracle, meaning that on the first night, two candles are lit, one representing the night and the helper. Each one is lit until all nine candles are lit and glowing beautifully on the last night. Many candles are made from beeswax which provides not only a beautiful candle but a wonderful fragrance. Traditionally, Hanukkah Menorah's are placed in the window to "publicize" this miracle.

Menorahs

As mentioned, the beautifully crafted candles are placed in a special candelabrum or menorah, which is Hebrew for lamp. While in the Temple, the menorah was lit with oil, most menorahs today are for candles. The intricacy and beauty of the Hanukkah menorah is very important as each menorah should be representative of the incredible miracle and of the richness of the menorah found in the Holy Temple. Various metals are used ranging from nickel to pewter as are hand-crafted designs such as ceramic and stained or frosted glass designs.Each menorah has nine candle holders, where the "shamash" or attendant is typically higher or in the center of the menorah. Engraved designs also add a special touch, where scenes of Jerusalem are typically featured since this holiday commemorates the miracle of returning to the Temple in Jerusalem. The special candle lighting blessing is also featured in Hebrew script as well.

Dreidels

Dreidels after menorahs are probably the most well known symbol of this fun holiday. Typically, crafted from wood and hand-painted these fun spinning tops have been used on Hanukkah for hundreds of years. A fun game of chance played by all ages, the rules are very simple. Each side of the dreidel has a letter painted on it in Hebrew. When inside Israel; these letters are an acronym for "A great miracle happened here"; while outside of Israel the last letter is "there" instead of "here". Different amounts of chocolate are awarded based on which letter fall face up. Since these are such famous Hanukkah symbols, beautiful dreidels are made from metal or glass and given as collector items as well.

Match Boxes & Holders

Like every Jewish festival or special occasion, lighting candles is traditionally done by lighting a match. Just as every element of each festival is unique so too are special match boxes and holders used to separate these items from every day uses. Traditionally, these wonderful items are crafted from nickel a silver-like metal that is engraved with wonderful images of Jerusalem, and Stars of David.

For More Information

For more information on Hanukkah Candles, Dreidels, or the holiday of Hanukkah, feel free to browse through World of Judaica's Hanukkah learning page or contact our Judaica experts with any questions or concerns.

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