Hanukkah is a traditional Jewish Festival of Lights. According to the Talmud, the holiday is celebrated for eight days to commemorate the re-dedication of the temple of Jerusalem that took place in 165 BCE. One of the most meaningful customs of the holiday is the lighting of the Menorah, a multi-light candelabra with nine branches. The Menorah is lit every night during the eight day period, each candle burning for about an hour. Typically one candle is lit the first night, two the second, and so forth, until the final night when all eight candles are lit. But when do we light the Hanukkah candles?
The Timing of the Lighting Ceremony
Before lighting, it is customary for the one who will conduct the ceremony to recite a blessing. This is often done in a special and beautiful way with singing and traditional melodies. Then, the candles are lit from left to right. On the first night, a single candle is lit and an additional candle is lit each consecutive night of the festival. The longest lasting candle is used to light additional candles each night, signifying the concept that the light of the Menorah is continuously growing and spreading each night.
Havdalah and Hanukkah Lights
- For religious Jews in Israel, the lighting takes place only after the Havdalah service. The time for reciting the Havdalah prayer is forty minutes after nightfall.
- In diaspora countries, though not required, it is common to wait for the Havdalah before lighting. This generally happens just a few minutes before sunset.
- For Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox Jews in the United States and other countries, they often light Hanukkah Candles before Shabbat. This usually occurs at around 6:30-7:00 pm.
Once the eight candles have been lit, special songs and prayers may be chanted or sung. Instead of the elaborate blessing, a shortened version may be recited.
At the end of the eight days of lighting, Hanukkah is concluded with a special prayer known as Havdalah. The lit Menorah is kept by the window as a reminder of the miracle of the victory and rededication of the Temple. Hanukkah celebrates the power of faith and hope. Through this celebration of miracles we are reminded to never give up on what we believe in, no matter how small or seemingly insurmountable the odds. Through the lighting of the Hanukkah candles, we are reminded to never forget the strength and courage of those who stood before us to make our lives beautiful.
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Last update 2023-11-27. Price and product availability may change.