Hanukkah is a joyous celebration of family, freedom, and light. Each year, beginning on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev (Nov- December), the festival starts and lasts for eight days. This Festival of Lights is a joyous time when families unite around the magnificent menorah and hanukkiah lights. It is a time of singing songs, eating latkes and, remembering the miracle of Hanukkah. At what can be the coldest, darkest time of the year, menorah lighting brings light and warmth into our homes, communities, and the world. In the Talmud, the Hanukkah commandment is "A candle for each man and his household." Today, we take menorah lighting to mean kindling Hanukkah candles for everyone. Children may have their own Hanukkah menorah to light. Many families use the eight days of Hanukkah as an opportunity to spend time together each night.
Origin of Hanukkah
The name "Hanukkah derives from a Hebrew meaning "to dedicate." The eight-day Jewish festival of lights commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple of Jerusalem in the second century B.C.
A seven-branched menorah, without "Shamash" (helper candle), once stood in Jerusalem's Temple. This oil-burning menorah was lit by the High priests, 'Kohanim,' every evening.
Oil Menorah Lighting
According to legend Jews had risen against their Greek-Syrian oppressors. After a long campaign of guerrilla warfare, the Jewish rebels known as Maccabees defeated their enemies. Tradition held when they recaptured the Temple, only one vial of undefiled olive oil remained. Just enough to light the seven lamps of the Temple menorah for a single day. Miraculously, the lamps burned for eight days, allowing time to press and bless more oil. That's why Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days and is called the Festival of Lights.
Menorah and Hanukkiah
According to God's command, the seven-branched candelabra or menorah stands for light, wisdom, and divine inspiration. Traditionally rendered in gold, the branches represent human wisdom, spreading divine inspiration throughout the world. The gold symbolized striving to behave in a 'pure golden' manner and accept holiness. A seven-branch menorah must be part of every Jewish home and lit as a sign of enlightenment.
A Kosher Hanukkah menorah or Hanukkiah has eight candleholders in one line. A ninth candleholder, the "Shamash," is placed in the highest branch of the menorah. This type of menorah symbolizes the Hanukkah miracle, of oil lasting for eight days instead of one.
Handcrafted Menorah for Sale at My American Crafts
During Hanukkah, candles are placed and blessed each night of the holiday. In ancient times, oil-burning menorah were traditional. Over time, candles became substituted for oil.
The Hanukkah candles are lit at sundown, the time when passers-by are most likely to see them. When possible, the menorah stands in windows or elsewhere in the home that is visible from the outside. It's customary to light the menorah just after dark each night. A blessing is said, and then using the shamash (helper) candle, one lights the first candle. The direction is from left to right so that the kindling begins with the newest light.
My American Crafts has a broad collection of menorah and Hanukkiah for your celebration of The Festival of Lights. Glasslight's Blue Shofar Menorah's shape echoes the image of the ritual shofar musical instrument. Traditionally made from the horn of a ram and used on relevant Jewish public and religious occasions. In biblical times, the shofar sounded the Sabbath, announced the New Moon, and proclaimed a new king's anointing.
Glasslight's hand-cast glass version combines royal blue glass in contrast to textured clear glass. A metal stand cradles the menorah, and metal inserts allow candles to burn out naturally
Sand cast and hand-finished bronze, elegant and organic, Scott Nelle's "Tree of Life" menorah features a tree-the timeless symbol of life and immortality. Inspired by the African Acacia tree, this cast bronze menorah holds nine Hanukkah candles and will light your Hanukkah Festival days for many years.
Also, from Scott Nelles, you'll find the "Dancing Rabbi" menorah. Sand cast and hand-finished in bronze, nine Rabbi, are happily dancing to celebrate the Hanukkah Festival. Both elegant and whimsical, this sculpture will find a permanent place in your yearly celebration. The Nelles Collection also offers "The Contemporary" menorah with clean lines for a modern look.
For a simpler, more rustic feeling, try Gio Gio"s "Lotus Flower" menorah. This simple, lovely lotus flower menorah, composed of Eco-friendly amber bamboo, is finished with linseed oil. Two sections of the menorah slot together for use and easily come apart to store flat.
Perfect for travel, college kids, and collectors!
Gio Gio Studio's "Intersecting Arches" menorah has a sculptural, modern feeling.
Hudson Glass produces a stunning, brilliant "Blue Glass" menorah, which features hand sculpted glass candlesticks arranged on a mirrored base. It truly captures the beauty of color and light with it's swirling pattern of candleholders spiraling upward to hold flames—an incredible focal point for mantle or table.
My American Crafts also showcases the work of glass artist Daryl Cohen. Daryl's "Watercolor S Curve" menorah features brilliant, watercolor shades of dichroic glass. The glass is fused to make intriguing patterns on this stunning menorah. Glass beads add texture and interest. Elegantly formed with a gentle curve; this menorah is perfect for your home or office.
For a sleeker look, with some color, this studio's "Multicolor/Black menorah has an inset of dichroic glass. Dichroic glass, means two colors and refers to the reflected and a transmitted rainbow of colors it produces.
Electric Menorah Lighting
Festival of Light celebrations held in places where open flames aren't allowed still have some options. There are several electric and battery-powered menorah and hanukkiah available. Cleaning up melted candle wax after each night of Hanukkah is no one's ideal job. Luckily, flame-free electric menorahs provide a practical alternative to the traditional type and give candlelight ambiance.
Menorah Lighting Today
The Festival of Lights tradition is represented in The White House by a collection of handcrafted menorah and Hanukkiah. Gary Rosenthal created "The Presidential Menorah" during President Clinton's term. The candles used to light a menorah are available in a rainbow of colors. Other than the traditional white candles, blue, silver and the soft, honey tones of beeswax candles are also popular.