Counting Down to Hanukkah: How Many Candles Go on a Menorah?

counting down to hanukkah how many candles go on a menorah

The menorah is a symbol of Judaism, and it has been an important part of the Jewish faith for centuries. At Hanukkah, it is customary to light a nine-branched menorah, known as a Chanukiah or Hanukkiah. The candles on the menorah have special meanings and importance, so let’s take a look at how many candles are typically used on a menorah.

The Meaning Behind the Candles

The number of candles used on a menorah is significant because each candle has its own purpose and meaning. On the left side of the menorah are three candles that represent God’s attributes — power (mighty strength), wisdom (divine understanding) and mercy (mercy, compassion).

hanukkah candle holders mini bejeweled blue and gold painted on table with candles

On the right side are four additional candles that represent human qualities — joy (happiness and delight), honor (respect and esteem), glory (splendor and magnificence) and peace (tranquillity). The ninth candle in the center is called the “shamash” or servant candle which is used to light all other eight candles.

Hanukkah candle holders

The number nine holds a special significance in Judaism, as it symbolizes divine completeness. In other words, it is believed that God has perfect control over all aspects of one’s life with nine being the ultimate number for perfection.

hanukkah candle holders shiny metallic gold

This is why there are eight candles on a menorah plus one extra—the Shamash—which stands for “servant.” The Shamash is lit first and then used to light each of the other candles, thus signifying that God comes before all else.

Menorah candle holders

Each candle also has its own meaning and purpose on the menorah. The first candle represents creation, while the second through seventh represent redemption from slavery in Egypt. The eighth represents freedom from oppression and persecution, while the ninth—the Shamash—represents peace and hope for a brighter future.

hanukkah candle holders shiny metallic gold with table runner

Together, these nine candles act as both a reminder of past events and an inspiration for striving towards greater peace and understanding among people today.

The History of the Menorah

The Menorah is an eight-branched candelabrum used as part of Jewish ceremonies and rituals. It is based on a gold lampstand that was used in the Tabernacle in Jerusalem during biblical times.

hanukkah candle holders black painted iron candle stand on wood slab

Jewish candle stick holders

Today, it is often used to celebrate Hanukkah, a festival that commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem after its desecration by Antiochus IV Epiphanes. During Hanukkah, Jews light one candle each night for eight days to symbolize miraculous oil that lasted for 8 days when rededicating the temple.

How Many Candles Are Used for Ceremonial Purposes?

When celebrating Hanukkah, a traditional Menorah consists of nine branches —eight branches with candles representing each day of Hanukkah plus an additional branch called the shamash (servant) candle which is used to light each night’s candles—so nine total candles are lit every night of Hanukkah. This type of menorah is usually made out of metal or brass.

hanukkah candle holders black painted iron candle stand

How Many Candles Are Used for Decorative Purposes?

For decorative purposes, some people choose to use seven-candle menorahs instead of nine-candle ones for their homes or businesses but still follow the same pattern as traditional Hanukkah practice with seven nights requiring seven different colored candles.

hanukkah candle holders shiny metallic gold on kitchen counter table

Brass menorah candle holders

These types of menorahs are often made from glass or wood and can come in various shapes and sizes depending on personal preference and budget constraints. There are also electric versions available if you don’t want to deal with wax!

hanukkah candle holders brass metal tree design


The nine candles on a menorah have been part of Jewish tradition for centuries. Each candle has its own unique symbolism and meaning, which serves to remind us that our history should never be forgotten nor taken lightly. By taking time to understand each candle’s significance, we can learn important lessons about ourselves and how we can continue striving towards better days ahead. So take some time this Hanukkah season to reflect upon the powerful message behind these nine candles. Use them as an opportunity to grow spiritually, emotionally, and mentally!

Avatar for Bethany James

Bethany James

Dog mom. Independent woman. Lover of life. I’m a firm believer that one shouldn’t simply wait around for opportunities to appear, they should be created. Writing is an expression of the soul, so let me share my soul with you!

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