Today is the start of a 8 day Jewish festival. It is also known as the Festival of Light. The festival is observed by the kindling of the lights on a unique candelabrum the nine-branched menorah. A candle is lit every night of the holiday progressing to eight on the eight on the final night. Typically the menorah consists of eight branches with an additional raised branch which is called the Shamash. Its purpose is to have light available for practical use as using the Hanukkah lights themselves for purposes other than publicising and meditating on the Hanukkah is forbidden.