Hanukkah, or Channukah, is about shunning the darkness and embracing the light. It is no wonder, then, that it is also called the Festival of Lights. The main commandment we were given on this holiday is to make the miracle of the of oil public. This is accomplished by placing the lit Menorah by the window so that passersby can all see the lights and be aware of the miracle that God had performed for us. One of the best ways to be festive on this holiday and to honor the commandment of lighting the Menorah is by carefully selecting the Hanukkah candles.
Shopping for Hanukkah candles can be a difficult task due to the great variety of types of candles out there. While standard colorful candles are always popular, you need to also think about the type of Menorah you have. If you have an extravagant Sterling Silver Menorah, and the rest of your Judaica is also Sterling Silver, perhaps those common colorful candles may not be an optimal idea. You may want to find more lavish candles. Or, even if you do opt for the simple ones, perhaps rather than buying multicolored candles you should stick with one color to go with the silver color. Any single color would look great when combined with a Sterling silver Menorah.
If you want to be original this year there are many options from which to choose. For instance, you can go for scented candles. Many scented candles look like the standard Hanukkah candles, burn for over an hour and exude smells such as vanilla, coconut and many more. If you are used to lighting incense at home this is great solution that combines lighting the Menorah and imbuing your home with aromatic smells. Many scented candles are not the right size and shape for a Menorah, but this should not be a hurdle; you are always welcome to buy standard candles for the Menorah and at the same time light the scented candle for ambiance.
A fantastic way to solidify family ties and explore your artistic side is creating your own Hanukkah candles. There are many places that offer Hanukkah candle kits, which include enough beeswax sheets and wicks to make 44 candles that will last the entire holiday. Many such kits also include literature about the holiday’s history, as well as glitter with which to decorate the candles. The time you spend with your family making the candles will be priceless.
Many candles, while not meant to be put in the Menorah, are nonetheless apposite for Hanukkah. These candles do not replace the Menorah candles, but supplement them. For example, you have the dreidel-shaped candles; these come in a variety of sizes and shapes, and some are even scented. Many of them, as a result of having very thick layers of wax, burn for many hours. If you do choose to buy one dreidel candles and you have children, just make it a point to tell them, several times if needed, to not spin the dreidle while it is aflame.
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.
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.
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 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 InformationFor 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.