The Festival of Lights, or the Festival of Dedication, is a Jewish celebration that happens over the course of eight days. You may have witnessed this celebration, or have taken part in it yourself. If you have no idea about the celebration, you might understand more if you learned that this celebration is known more commonly as the Hanukkah, or the Channukah.
How is the Hanukkah celebrated? Each Jewish household will have a special candelabrum, which is the nine-branched Menorah. The lights in this candelabrum will have to be lighted up each night until all eight lights are lighted on the eighth night. The extra light, which is called the shamash (or, in Hebrew, servant or guard), is lighted each night to light the others. It also has a special place ‘š either above or below all the other lights in the candelabrum.
Why is the Hanukkah celebrated? Back in the days, Judaism was once outlawed in Jerusalem. Antiochus had a temple built for Zeus and Mattathias, a Jewish priest who rebelled against it. When Mattathias died, one of his sons, Judah, replaced him as the leader. He became successful in his revolt, and had the former Jewish temple rededicated.
Judah then had a festival, called the Hanukkah, instituted to celebrate the event. The whole temple had to be cleansed, and a new altar had to be built. They needed olive oil to have the Menorah in the temple lighted up. Unfortunately, they only had enough oil to burn for one day. Miraculously, the oil lasted for eight days, which was the time needed to have a fresh supply of olive oil for the Menorah prepared. Thus, the Jewish sages declared to have a festival, which would last eight days to commemorate this day.
In modern times, the Hanukkah lighting has to be done at least an hour after it gets dark. The candle wax sold for the Hanukkah festival is designed to last about half an hour, so they are still able to follow the tradition. However, Fridays are a big problem for the Jewish people since they cannot light the candles on the Shabbat itself. They have to do it before sunset, although they have to make sure that it burns for about thirty minutes after dark.