The Hanukkah story: More than 2,000 years ago a large group of Jews -- called the Macabees -- rebelled against their oppressors. They were victorious over the larger Syrian army, but during the rededication of their temple, they found that there was only enough oil to illuminate the temple's menorah -- for one night.
But to their surprise, it lasted for eight nights.
This is why, during Hanukkah, people of the Jewish faith light the menorah each night, starting with one candle on the first night and then adding candles each additional night until all eight are lit. The center slot of the menorah is the tallest. It is called the helper candle -- or shamash in Hebrew -- and is the candle used to light all other candles.
Hanukkah is rich in tradition and there are many traditions families celebrate. In my family, we sing songs, spin the dreidel, and eat lots of yummy fried food like donuts and latkes (check out Macaroni Kid EATS! delicious latkes recipe). And, of course, Hanukkah also wouldn't be complete without presents!
Along with those traditions, we've added a new Hanukkah tradition in our house that I love. Instead of store-bought Hanukkah candles, we decided to make our own. We buy a special candle-making kit, which means there is no muss, no fuss and -- best of all -- no big clean up. This craft is so easy and fun for all ages -- and a great new tradition for our family that your family can try too!
What you need:
- Hanukkah candle making kit or beeswax candles with string. You'll need enough to make 44 candles as the candles are burned down each night of Hanukkah and replaced with new the next day. You can find kits at craft stores or online.
- Put parchment paper down on the table to keep from getting wax on the surface.
- Place a string (the wick) the length of the beeswax on one end of the beeswax candle.
- Press the string down gently and then roll the beeswax as tight as you can.
- Once rolled, place on the table and roll it back and forth a few times to create a circular shape to fit into the menorah holes.
PRO TIP: To keep candles from tipping inside the menorah, when you light the candle burn the bottom part and let a few drops of wax fall into the hole. Then place the candle in the hole. Or you can also line the menorah holes with foil, which keeps candles in place and also helps in easy cleanup.
Ellen DeFrancesco is the publisher of Macaroni Kid Long Beach-Oceanside-Rockville Centre, N.Y.