Wednesday, November 17, 2021

How to Make a Citrus Menorah

Want to get a head start on December festivities?  This year, Hanukkah --The Jewish Festival of Lights-- begins in November. It is celebrated for eight nights, starting on November 28 and ending on December 6. Even if you're not Jewish, Hanukkah (also spelled Chanukah and Hanukah) contains wonderful traditions and decorations that merge beautifully with the spirit of this time of the year.  Lights, food, family, games, gifts, and gratitude all play a part during the celebration of Hanukkah, and the centerpiece is, without a doubt, the Menorah.   

What Is a Menorah?

A menorah, which translates from Hebrew as "lamp stand," is a candelabrum with branches on it to hold seven or nine candles. The Hanukkah menorah, or Hanukkiah, contains nine branches: a taller one called the shamash in the center, and four shorter ones to the left and right of the shamash.  Hanukkah menorahs come in all shapes and sizes, from simple and tiny to very embellished, large, and expensive.  But it isn't necessary to spend a lot of money or time to enjoy a beautiful menorah in your home.  If you have a grapefruit, eight oranges, and a box of Chanukah candles available at most stores or online, you can make your own!

Why Make It with Citrus?

Well, here at Florida Fruit Shippers, where citrus is our passion, the immediate response from our vantage point is, "Why not?"  But beyond even that, it is interesting to note that oranges and grapefruits have a long history in the traditions of Jewish culture. Because citrus fruits have always been an important part of holiday meals and ceremonies, Jewish farmers who lived some 1,500 years ago mastered cultivation of citron and then many other varieties of citrus as the diaspora spread throughout the Mediterranean and beyond, and Jewish merchants were able to spread the deliciousness of citrus even further. With this bit of history in mind, it makes sense that a citrus menorah is aligned with Hanukkah. So, if you love to DIY as much as me, you'll love this easy project that results in a festive, fragrant, and very affordable menorah!  

How to Make It

You'll need one grapefruit and four oranges for your citrus menorah.  First, find a platter or large board to situate your fruit upon. Line with aluminum foil. Cut just bit off of the bottom of the grapefruit so that it is flat.  Place the grapefruit securely at the center of the platter.  Make sure it is stable--we are lighting a candle on it! Then, cut each of the oranges in half and place them flat side down on both sides of the grapefruit, four on each side. Take a paring knife and cut holes at the top of each piece of citrus, just big enough to situate a Hanukkah candle inside, but not so big that the candle isn't secure. 

How to Use Your Citrus Menorah

You will need a full box of menorah candles (available at most big box stores or online). At sundown on the first night of Hanukkah, light one candle, the shamash, and put it in the grapefruit at the center.  Then, place one unlit candle on the orange furthest to the right. Use the shamash to light the first orange candle.  Sing a song or take a moment of quiet reflection, and allow the candles to burn all the way to exhaustion (do keep an safety eye on them, as with anything using fire). On the second night, place candles in the two oranges furthest to the right, and light them with the shamash. Continue in this way each night, adding a candle from right to left until the eighth night, when all of the candles will be lit.  If you wish, you can exchange gifts each night, or just on the last night.  We suggest a gift basket from Florida Fruit Shippers!

Wishing you and yours a happy and citrus-illumined Hanukkah.

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