Hanukkah is an important celebration for our brothers and sisters with Jewish faith. During the eight-day holiday, a candle is lit everyday to commemorate the miracle that happened centuries ago, after the success of Jewish revolution. Amazingly, the Jews had enough oil to light the menorah for eight straight days when all that is left is good for just a day. The eight branches of a menorah holding eight similar candles are used to symbolize that miracle.
Do not get confused, the celebration is called Hanukkah while the candelabrum used to symbolize it is called menorah. Basically, a menorah is a nine-branched candelabrum holding nine candles. The eight candles are lit at specific times of the day. The ninth holder, on the other hand, is called shamash and it importantly plays the role of lighting the other eight candles. The shamash, which is usually placed higher than the others and is usually located in the middle, is also known as the helper or the servant.
The Menorah Candles
Menorah candles are mostly tall, tapered candles that should fit the holder. They are uniformed candles that are lit in a structured manner, following Jewish faith. There should always be a shamash or an assistant candle. That is because menorah candles are not intended for any other purpose other than viewing. That means, you will need the shamash to light the menorah candles since you cannot use them for lighting each other.
Along with the Hanukkah celebrations, it is important for Judaism to publicize the miracle. In that sense, the menorah candles must be given enough exposure for the public to notice. If possible, the menorah must be placed on the left side of the doorway when entering. If that is not practical, you may put it inside the house, by the window or in a table.
Lighting the Candles
On the first night, a candle on the far right is kindled and is lit. Each night afterwards, an additional candle is kindled, from right to left. The candles are then lighted by the shamash from left to right.
Ideally, candle lighting should be done immediately after nightfall, when all the family members are in. If that is not possible, you may also light the candles late into the night. On Friday, the menorah candles must be lit before sundown.
There are prayers recited before lighting the menorah candles.
The menorah candles must be left lighted for 30 minutes or more. During which time, family members can exchange gifts, sing joyful songs, play games, or retell the story of Hanukkah and what the celebration symbolizes.