Just a Little Bit about Hanukkah
Hanukkah is probably the best known Jewish holiday on the calendar. This eight-day festival commemorates the military victory of the Maccabees over the Syrian-Greek army, the rededication of the Holy Temple and most importantly, the miracle of the oil. Hanukkah celebrates the triumph of light over darkness and how G-d will always be present for his faithful.
The word Hanukkah is derived from the Hebrew word chanuck which means dedication as in the rededication with oil of the Second Temple after the desecration at the hands of the Syrian-Greeks. The most common English spelling is Hanukkah, however, the holiday can also be spelled as Chanukah, Chanukkah, Chanuka or Hannukah.
The most important and enjoyable tradition of Hanukkah is lighting Hanukkah Menorahs. In Hebrew the Hanukkah Menorah is called a Chanukiah. Hanukkah menorahs represent the miracle of the oil in which one day of oil burned for eight days until the Maccabees could acquire more sanctified oil.
Today most Chanukiahs use candles for the lights, although some use oil and wicks. The Hanukkah Menorah has eight branches representing each of the eight days the oil burned. There is a taller ninth branch called the shamash used to light the other branches.
How to Light the Hanukkah Menorah
It is important to light the Chanukiah in a specific way. Each night we light one more candle until the whole Hanukkah menorah is ablaze in beauty. Here is how to light the Hanukkah menorah so you can properly enjoy this wonderful Hanukkah tradition.
1) Place your Hanukkah Menorah near a window – on a window sill or on a table in front of the window is the perfect place.
2) Recite the blessings of Chanukkah.
3) Place one candle in the shamash branch and one candle in the branch furthest to the right. (This is for the first night. On the second night you place one candle in the shamash and one furthest to the right, then one just to the left of it. Each night you add one candle filling in right to left.)
4) Light the shamash with a match. This is the candle used to light all other candles and does not count as one of the nightly Hanukkah candles.
5) Pick up the shamash and light the other branches from right to left. Place the shamash back in its branch.
Enjoy the beauty and warmth of your Hanukkah Menorah!