Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Homemade Hanukkiah

Chag Sameach!  (Happy Festival!)

In honor of the last night of Hanukkah this year, I thought I'd share a Hanukkah menorah, or hanukkiah, that I made back in 2003.   Made for a homemade hanukkiah contest, I had too much fun hand-painting symbols of the Biblical festivals on each of the cups that hold the nine candles required for Hanukkah.

The base is a piece of corrugated cardboard painted gold.  The candle holders were found on the 'wooden' aisle at the craft store and glued to my cardboard base.  To light a hanukkiah, you light the candles from the right to left (the same way you read Hebrew) - adding an additional candle each of the eight nights of Hanukkah.  So, I made the far right candle holder to represent Passover (Pesach) - the first festival in the yearly cycle of festivals.  Then it's Shavuot, Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur.  The tall holder in the middle represents the Sabbath and that candle is the 'helper' candle or the shammash.  It doesn't represent a night of Hanukkah; it is lit each of the nights and used to light the other candles.  On the left side of the shammash, is Sukkot, Hanukkah, Purim and lastly, Tu B'Shvat.

Each candle holder is painted on both sides with different elements of each festival.  You can see the Passover candle holder has a seder plate featured.  For Shavuot, or Pentacost, the stone tablets were fun to paint.  Rosh Hashanah has to an apple (apples & honey are eaten traditionally) and the famous shofar (ram's horn), since it's the Feast of Trumpets.  The Yom Kippur holder has a yartzeit candle, or memorial candle, as we remember those that have gone on before us on this festival.  The Shabbat (Sabbath) holder actually has four traditional Sabbath symbols on it; the Sabbath bread (challah), candles, flowers and wine.

Going from right to left again, the Sukkot holder is featuring a booth or sukkah, for the Festival of Booths.  Then Hanukkah, of course, has presents, gelt (chocolate coins) and a dreidel (a toy top).  Next is Purim, a festival of carnivals, costumes and the story of Esther.  The last holder shows what Tu b'Shvat is all about - trees and celebrating the produce of Israel.

The backside of the hanukkiah has the festivals in reverse order (obviously!).  On the right, it's Tu b'Shvat again with a pomegranate, figs, grapes & olives.  Then it's the party of Purim with a noise maker and confetti.  You can pick out the Hanukkah holder with our hanukkiah, the nine-branch candle holder (which is different from the candle stands in the Temple, which featured seven branches).  Sukkot is the last one before the shammash, and I painted the lulav & etrog that represents the beauty of the Land; the lulav (branches of the myrtle, palm and willow trees) and etrog (citron found in Israel) are waved in the sukkah (booth) as an offering and rejoicing before the LORD.  On the Sabbath holder, you can see the Sabbath candles and the flowers for the erev Shabbat meal table.

From the shammash on the far right, where you can see the candles again and the wine used for the blessing (kiddush), we move to the Yom Kippur holder featuring the prayer shawl (tallit).  Yom Kippur is all about introspection, prayer and repentance.  Next, the Rosh Hashanah bread (challah) is braided into a round shape to symbolize a crown and is traditionally sweetened with raisins and sugar glaze.  Shavuot, or Pentacost, is the celebration of the giving of the Torah, so I chose to paint a Torah scroll similar to the ones that are read from during the liturgy.  Our synagogue's Torah scroll is 500 years old!  On the last candle holder we come back to Passover and show wine and everyone's favorite - matzah!  (Matzah is unleaven bread made especially for Passover and no, everyone doesn't really like it!)

This little hanukkiah was so much fun to paint, although, I have to tell you that I didn't win the contest.  Honestly, I don't remember who won that year; probably someone who used toilet paper tubes and dixie cups!  Just kidding...

Happy Hanukkah!


Ari C'rona said...

Thanks for the reminder of all our festivals, my friend. So many wonderful memories... :o)

Mama Cache said...

I love how you pulled all of this together in one place, both on the hanukkiah and in the blog post.

Beautifully done, Liz.

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