The Hanukkah lamp is lit during the Hanukkah celebrated to commemorate the victory of Judah Maccabee over the Seleucids in 164 BC as well as the ritual purification of the profaned Temple of Jerusalem and its reconsecration during the eight-day celebration. The new furnishing for the Temple was made and, according to legend, the lighting of the menorah was possible only because the pot with oil not profaned by the enemy was found. Although the supply of oil was sufficient only for one day, the candelabrum miraculously burnt for eight days until new, ritually pure oil was prepared.
The Hanukkah celebrations, commemorating the historic victory, refer to this legend about the miraculous multiplication of oil. The holiday begins on the 25th day of Kislev (the period falling usually in the second half of December) and lasts eight days. Each day one candle more is lit, beginning from the right side of the lamp. As the candles cannot be lit from one another, Hanukkah lamps usually have an additional ninth branch called shamash [Hebrew: servant].
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