Hanukkah is a time-honored Jewish tradition celebrating light’s victory over darkness. It commemorates the rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem after Judah Maccabee and his brothers recaptured it from the Greeks.
In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the traditional Hanukkah menorahs, including how to light the menorah, What you need to say before lighting the menorah, and more.
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What are Hanukkah Menorahs?
A Hanukkah menorah (also known as a Hanukiah) is the nine-branched candelabra used to commemorate the Festival of Lights. It is believed that Judah Maccabee and his brothers had enough sacred oil to light the Temple’s eight-branched menorah for only one day.
Yet, when they lit it, the oil miraculously lasted 8 days until more could be obtained. To commemorate this miracle, Jews around the world light a 9-branched Hanukkah menorah to honor the original one in the Temple.
How to light the Menorah?
It is customary to light the Hanukkah menorah not with a regular match but with a unique Hanukkah candle called a shamash.
The shamash should always be placed in the middle menorah, and it will be used throughout the lighting ceremony each night.
Starting on the right side of the menorah, use the shamash to light one candle on the first night, two candles on the second night, and so on until all eight candles are alight. The shamash needs to be lit first, then used to light the other candles.
How many candles are on a Hanukkah menorah?
A Hanukkah menorah has eight branches and one central stem for nine candles.
In which direction do you light the Hanukkah menorah?
When you stand in front of the menorah, on the first night, light the first candle on the right side of the menorah. On the second night, the two extreme candles on the right side are prepared, and the Medley first lights the left of the two.
Who lights the Hanukkah candles?
According to Ashkenazi custom, every family member lights candles for himself as a blessing, including children who have reached school age (about age 6), except for the woman of the house.
The Sephardic custom is to have the father of the household light all candles while making blessings for himself and his family.
Related: 10 Best Hanukkah Menorahs Guide
What do you say before lighting the Menorah?
On the first night, three blessings are said before the lighting:
Bless number #1:
“בָּרוּךְ אתה אדוניי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ לְהַדְלִיק נֵר שֶׁל חֲנֻכָּה”
Bless number #2:
The second blessing we say is:
“בָּרוּךְ אתה אדוני אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁעָשָׂה נִסִּים לַאֲבוֹתֵינוּ וְאִמוֹתֵינוּ בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם בַּזְּמַן הַזֶּה”
Bless number #3:
“בָּרוּךְ אתה אדוני אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְּמַן הַזֶּה”
In the following seven nights, only the first two blessings are blessed. After that, the candles need to be lit.
Another thing people tend not to remember. On Shabbat evening, You should light the Hanukkah candles first and then make the traditional Shabbat blessings.
What does the Hanukkah Menorah Symbolize?
The Hanukkah menorah is a reminder of the miracle that happened in the Temple during Judah Maccabee’s time. It symbolizes faith, courage, and perseverance, even in the face of overwhelming odds.
It also reminds us to strive for justice and righteousness, just as Judah and his brothers did when they led the revolt against the Greeks.
Finally, it symbolizes the festival of lights—the joy and celebration that comes from rededicating ourselves to God’s service.
Why do you put a menorah in the window?
Traditionally, Jews put a Hanukkah menorah in the window so that their neighbors can see it and be reminded of God’s miracles. It is also meant to show solidarity with other Jewish people, who may be celebrating the Hanukkah holiday in their own homes.
In addition, the menorah in the window serves as a beacon of hope, showing the world that even in the darkest moments, God can bring light and joy.
Maoz Tzur song
After lighting the menorah, it is traditional to sing the “Maoz Tzur” This song celebrates God’s help in times of trouble and thanks Him for his protection.
Some people sing only the first stanza, some sing the entire poem, and some sing only the first and fifth stanzas.
The origin of the peyote is in the Middle Ages and is thought to have been written By a rabbi named Mordechai.
The name “Hanukkah.”
Hanukkah means “dedication,” It refers to the Jews’ dedication to the second Temple.
Moreover, the Hanukkah holiday is also called the “Holiday of Lights” because of the lighted menorah in every window. In addition, it is also called the “winter holiday,” which contains new promises for the following year.
If this is not enough, it is essential to know that the Hanukkah holiday is called the “holiday of the olives” because, during this season, olives can be harvested for oil production.
When is Hanukkah?
Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days, typically occurring between late November and December. The exact dates of the holiday change from year to year, as Hanukkah always falls on the 25th day of Kislev in the Hebrew calendar.
In 2022, the festival of lights will begin on Sunday, December 18, and ends on Saturday, December 26.
The giving of gifts is also a common practice during Hanukkah. A traditional gift is a book or art that has something to do with Jewish heritage and culture, but it can be anything that the recipient likes.
If you are looking for a unique gift, you can consider silver Hanukkah menorahs or sterling silver menorahs. Just make sure to find one of good quality material, which will last for many years.
A gift can also be dreidels in a variety of stunning designs or even a Hanukkah Gelt box which contains coins wrapped in gold and silver foil.
For more Hanukkah gifts, check out our handmade Menorahs selection from Jerusalem here.
Where to buy a Hanukkah Menorah?
Hanukkah menorahs come in all shapes and sizes, so you can find one that’s perfect for your needs. You can buy a Hanukkah menorah online or in most Judaica shops.
If you are looking for a unique Hanukkah menorah, you can check out Avi Nadav Hanukkah Menorahs for some luxurious handcrafted. The Nadav family has been creating beautiful pieces of Judaica for many years, and their Hanukkah Menorahs are the best.
Related: Top 10 Best Hanukkah Menorahs Guide
In addition to lighting the menorah, there are other customs associated with Hanukkah.
These include playing dreidel, eating traditional foods such as potato latkes and sufganiyot (jelly donuts), reading stories about the Maccabees, and singing memorable songs related to Hanukah.
5 Things you didn’t know about Hanukkah
- In the Tanach, Hanukkah is not mentioned at all.
- The words “Hanukkah,” “Hannuka,” or “Chanukah” are all acceptable ways to spell the holiday.
- Hanukkah falls around the same time as Christmas, but the two are not related.
- In Central park, New York, you can find the most giant menorah in the world. The menorah is over 32 feet tall and lit yearly to celebrate Hanukkah.
- The custom of eating latkes (potato pancakes) and jelly donuts is because Hanukkah celebrates the miracle of the oil.
What are the most popular colors in Hanukkah candles?
The colors of Hanukkah candles can vary, but usually, the traditional colors are blue and white.
Enter here to see our entire collection of Hanukkah Menorahs
What are you not allowed to do during Hanukkah?
Unlike other holidays like Passover and Sukkot, Hanukkah does not have any special restrictions. That being said, some people may choose to avoid activities such as doing work or playing musical instruments on holiday.
How long do you leave the menorah up?
At least 30 minutes after lighting the menorah, or until you can no longer see the light of the candles, despite this, many people let the candles burn until they extinguish themselves.
We hope this guide has helped give you the information you need about Hanukkah menorahs and related customs. Check out our blog for more Hanukkah-related articles.
Happy Hanukkah! from the team at The Israeli Center Of Judaica.