Happy Hanukkah, everyone! Tonite is the night to light the first candle on your menorah.
The Hanukkah Menorah
Many people refer to the hanukkiah as a Hanukkah "menorah." Menorah is the Hebrew word for lamp, and specifically refers to the seven-branched candelabrum that was used in the ancient Temple in Jerusalem. The Hanukkah lamp contains nine branches, though it is possible to find some antique European examples with 10 candle holders.
While eight lights are required on the hanukkiah, one to be lit each night of Hanukkah, it became customary for the Hanukkah menorah to have place for nine flames. The ninth flame is called the shamash ("the servant"), for its purpose is to light the others. The reason for the shamash probably derives from the legal principle that the Hanukkah lights themselves are not to be used for any purpose other than to "publicize the miracle." Thus, a "servant flame" is needed to light the other eight, keeping them from serving the pragmatic function of lighting another flame.