For eight days and nights, Hanukkah is celebrated with the kindling of lights on a menorah to commemorate the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem by the Maccabees. Technically a menorah is a seven-branched candelabrum that is used as a year-round symbol of the Jewish faith and it’s actually a “Hanukiah” (Ha-nu-kee-ah), which is used to celebrate Hanukkah. The “Hanukiah” or “Hanukkah Menorah” is easily distinguishable from the traditional menorah because of its eight candles at the same height and its misaligned “Shamash” that is used as a service candle to light the other candles on the menorah. Jewish tradition calls for the lighting of the Hanukiah each night during Hanukkah at sunset, starting with the Shamash and then using the Shamash to light the rest of the candles, from right to left, one day at a time so that on the eighth day, all of the candles are burning bright.
Traditional Menorah (via menorah.com)
Traditional Hanukiah (via traditionsjewishgifts.com)
Although many of today’s Hanukkah Menorahs have evolved considerably from the heavy, solid metal pieces of the past, they still share the same basic function of serving of spreading light, while acting as a medium for artistic expression.
Decorative Branch Menorah (via worldofjudaica.com)
Contemporary Figurine Menorah (via penrosejudaica.com)
Menorasaurus (via etsy.com)
Making homemade menorahs has joined playing the dreidl game and eating latkes as a beloved Hanukkah tradition, and not just for kids. It’s a fun activity for all ages and the possibilities for crafting beautiful (and sometimes delicious) menorahs are endless. Here are a few DIY menorahs to get you started:
LED Candle Menorah
Beautiful, yet simplistic, this flameless alternative to the everyday menorah was created using LED votives and an LED pillar candle to create a contemporary, minimalistic effect.
Glitter Candle Hanukkah Menorah
Add a little sparkle to the Hanukkah festivities by using flameless LED glitter candles that change color for a glimmering rainbow effect, no candleholders needed. Perfect for a windowsill display, recreating this look is as easy as just lining up the candles all in a row on a flat surface, raising one candle higher than the rest to represent the Shamash. While we chose to use a clear base for this particular project, any object can be used to add to the height of this candle to distinguish it from the other eight.
Napkin and Tea Light Menorah
Spruce up plain LED tea lights by rolling them up in fun, Hanukkah-themed paper beverage size napkins to recreate this inexpensive, yet festive look that even kids can easily make. Simply wrap the top of the napkin tightly around the tea light and tape it together. Make sure not to actually tape the tea light as you will need to slide it in and out of the napkin to “light the candles.” The napkin candles will stand on their own on a flat surface, which we chose to accent with cheerful Hannukah confetti featuring metallic dreidels and Stars of David.
Alphabet Block Menorah
Alphabet Block Menorah DIY
This kid-approved menorah is perfect for little hands as it just requires alphabet blocks and bolts glued together to come to light. If you don’t have alphabet blocks, you can use a small piece of wood that the kids can decorate themselves using colorful adornments such as paint, tissue paper, confetti, stickers, gems and more!
Do-it-yourself menorahs can be a artistic fun-filled family activity with no end to the creative possibilities. Happy Hanukkah!
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