Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday that celebrates the miracle that happened thousands of years ago when one flask of oil stayed lit for eight days. In commemoration of this, it is a central part of the holiday to light a Menorah, also known as a Hanukiah, each night of the holiday. The questions of exactly how many candles should be lit for the holiday, and what time they should be lit, is a central one for adherents of the holiday to consider.
Requirements for Lighting the Menorah
The commands related to the menorah lighting designated by Judaism are simple. According to Shulchan Aruch-the authoritative source of Jewish law-the Hanukiah must have seven branches, and nine fit-for-use candles. It is preferable to use proper Hanukah candles-wicks in oil-though any combustible fuel can be used.
The Times for Lighting
The Menorah should be lit immediately when the sun goes down. In ancient times, this was established as the time when three stars were visible in the sky on a clear night. However, today we have a bit more accurate timing.
It is customary for the Menorah to be lit outdoors and be visible to passersbys, so as to publicize the miracles of the holiday.
Lighting the Hanukiah
On the first night of Hanukkah, one candle should be lit. Each night following that, until all of the candles are lit, another one should be added. The appropriate number of candles is as follows:
- One light on the first night
- Two lights on the second night
- Three lights on the third night
- Four lights on the fourth night
- Five lights on the fifth night
- Six lights on the sixth night
- Seven lights on the seventh night
- Eight lights on the eighth night
The Shammash, or helper candle is used on all nights of Hanukkah. This is the candle used to light all of the other candles. It is lit after all of the other candles, and must be extinguished after the blessing, but not before it.
The lighting of the Hanukiah is a central part of the Hanukkah holiday and a beloved ceremony. Adherents of the holiday follow a general set of rules as to the number of candles and the timing of the lighting, to honor the miracle of the holiday and share its message of hope.
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Last update 2023-11-27. Price and product availability may change.