First Candle


London, United Kingdom

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Artist's Description

Happy Hanukkah to all !

In the 2nd Century BCE, the second temple of Jerusalem was looted & Judaism was outlawed by the Greek King Antiochus. A Jewish priest named Mattityahu & his five sons stirred up a rebellion against Antiochus. The Jewish uprising was eventually successful & the temple was purified & rededicated. The purification of the temple required burning only the purest olive oil, but only one flask was left. The flask contained only enough oil to burn for one day & eight days were needed to prepare more. Miraculously the oil burnt for a full eight days allowing the menorah to be kept alight as required. An annual Festival of Lights – Hanukkah – was declared to celebrate the miracle.

The Hanukiah:
The traditional seven-branched menorah is replaced, during Hanukkah, by the nine-branched Hanukiah. Eight of the lights represent the eight days of the oil burning in the temple. The ninth, usually central & distinctly separate from the others, is lit first & used to light the others.

The Kindling:
Each evening for eight evenings, just before sunset, the central light is lit & used to light the other lights. On the first evening the central light is used to light just one other light. On each successive evening one extra light is added until on the eighth evening eight have been added. The illuminated Hanukiah is placed by the window to remind passers-by of the miracle.

The lighting of the Hanukiah is accompanied by blessings, songs & fried foods. Among the most popular fried foods eaten during Hanukkah now are the Sufganyot, otherwise known as doughnuts

Artwork Comments

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