Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday celebrated to commemorate the victory of the Maccabees over the Greek-Syrians in 164 BCE. It is observed for eight days and nights, and is one of the most widely celebrated of Jewish holidays. A major aspect of the Hanukkah celebrations is the lighting of the Hanukkiah, or Hanukkah menorah. It is customary to light a new candle each night of the holiday, adding an additional candle until the eighth night when all eight are lit. So, what do you light on Hanukkah?
When lighting the Hanukkiah, the same prayer is usually said each night, typically including a blessing over wine and oil. First, the shamash – the helper candle – is lit. Then, starting from the right side of the menorah, each night of the holiday a new candle is added in a downward motion until all 8 candles are lit. This symbolizes the miracle of the Temple oil, which was only sufficient for 1 day but miraculously lasted 8 days.
Table of Contents
The Hanukkiah is a candelabra with 9 branches, 8 of which are used for the Hanukkah candles. One additional branch, the shamash, is used to light the other candles, and is set higher than the other 8 branches or is placed off to the side. Traditionally, the menorah is placed in a window or doorway of the home so others can also look at it and join in the celebration.
Types of Candles
The most traditional type of candle used in the Hanukkiah is called the “shemenarev” and is made of beeswax and in the shape of a cone. In recent times, paraffin or paraffin-soy wax candles are used. Some people also use oil lamps with cotton or linen wicks.
The Lighting Sequence
The lighting sequence for Hanukkah begins with the blessing for the shamash, which is lit first. For the second night, the shamash is lit first followed by the first of the new candles in a right-to-left direction. This is repeated for each night until all 8 candles and the shamash are lit.
At the end of the lighting, one additional blessing is recited. The candles should be allowed to burn for at least 30 minutes each night, or until one-half hour after nightfall. The shamash should be lit first and the other candles extinguished with it.
Oils and Wines
In addition to the Hanukkiah, oil and wine are traditional ritual items used during Hanukkah. To give thanks for the miracle of the oil, it is customary to light an oil lamp or traditional Hanukah menorah – the Chanukiah. The wine is consumed to give thanks for the redemption of the Jewish people.
A third traditional item used during Hanukkah is chocolate gelt. Gelt are small coins which are typically given to children or used for special activities. The coins represent the Judaic coins used to symbolize the miracle of the oil. Chocolate gelt in the shape of coins may be given instead.
In summary, Hanukkah is characterized primarily by the lighting of the Hanukkiah each night of the holiday, which symbolizes the miracle of the Temple oil. In addition, traditional items such as oil lamps, wine, and chocolate gelt are also used. Hanukkah is a time for thanksgiving, rejoicing, and, of course, celebrating with family and friends.
- When Do You Light Hanukkah Candles?
- How Do You Light The Candles For Hanukkah?
- What Candle Do You Light First For Hanukkah?
- Which Order Do You Light Hanukkah Candles?
- How Many Candles Do You Light For Hanukkah?
- When Do You Light Candles For Hanukkah?
- What Do You Say When You Light The Hanukkah Candles?
- How Do You Light The Hanukkah Menorah?
- What Order Do You Light The Candles For Hanukkah?
- When Do You Light The Candles For Hanukkah?
- How Many Candles Do You Light The First Night Of Hanukkah?
- What Order Do You Light Hanukkah Candles?
- What Candle Do You Light On The First Day Of Hanukkah?
- Which Way Do You Light The Candles For Hanukkah?
- Which Side Do You Light Hanukkah Candles?
Last update 2023-11-27. Price and product availability may change.