A pasta menorah is original, inexpensive, and fun to make

A pasta menorah before (left) and after spray painting. — Photo by Susan Safford

Maybe it’s just me, but pasta seems like the obvious choice for constructing anything. I made this pasta menorah for a Jewish friend who had just moved to the Vineyard and mentioned that she didn’t have a menorah for Hanukkah. It’s really easy, it looks great once painted, and the menorah candles fit perfectly. You can keep it simple or make it ornate — the many interesting varieties of pasta lend themselves really well to decoration.

I used:

one lasagna noodle

nine rigatoni

other pasta for decoration — bowties, spirals, elbows, etc.

Elmer’s glue

gold or silver metallic spray paint

Glue nine rigatonis, evenly spaced onto a lasagna noodle. The rigatoni tend to all be cut a little differently, some are slanted a little. Try placing them upright on a flat surface before gluing to the base to find the flattest ones. They also tend to be slightly different sizes so you can graduate your candle holders a little from smaller on the ends to a larger one in the middle or you can glue two together to make a taller center holder, but you need really flat ones for that. You can use ziti for some of the candle holders, and they will hold birthday candles. But try the candles out first before gluing them on. A lot of them have pinched openings.

You can leave the menorah as is or you can decorate. Elbow macaronis work great for making vines. To make the crossed rotinis in the picture, I glued them together first on a flat surface and let them dry before gluing them on to the rigatoni holders.

Spray paint — outdoors! With gold or silver metallic paint. Make sure an adult is present for this process and follow the directions on the can. Spray paint will dry quickly but give it at least an hour before bringing your menorah inside.

How to light a menorah

The candles are lit at nightfall or shortly after during the eight days of Hanukah. The number of candles lit each night corresponds to the days of Hanukkah (one on the first night up to eight for the last) Light the middle candle (called a shamash) first. Place a candle in the rightmost position on your menorah for the first night and work your way from right to left on subsequent nights. Hold the shamash and recite the traditional blessing while lighting the candles. Although you place the candles from right to left in the menorah, when you light them you work from left to right. The eight candles are symbolic of a miracle in the Hebrew religion when a small amount of olive oil managed to light candles for eight nights.