Hanukkah - Jewish Festival

Hanukkah Traditions: Jewish Culture & Traditions

Lighting Hanukkah Menorah: Hanukkah Traditions

Chanukah Menorah Lighting Tradition – Hanukiyah Candle Lighting Custom

Hanukkah is also known as the “Festival of Lights”. As the name suggests, the entire festival is a celebration of the miraculous event that occurred years ago at the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. The wicks of the Menorah lit for an amazing eight days at a stretch, although the sacred oil in the temple was enough to light the wicks for only one day. This is the reason why lights and lighted decors play such an important part in the observation of the celebration. It is vital for the festive lights to burn for at least half an hour after the sun sets.

It is almost regarded as a mitzvah (God’s commandment) that every Jew should publicize the miracle by lighting the wicks of the Hanukkah Menorah each night for eight days of the festival. Lighting menorah is one of the main traditions of the Jewish festival. The Hanukkah menorah is also known as Hanukiyah. It contains nine candle holders. Eight of these candles are meant one for each of the eight nights of Chanukah. The ninth candle is called Shamash and it is utilized for lighting the other candles. Read to explore more information on Hanukiyah candle lighting custom.


Chanukah menorah lighting tradition is very important and is observed in the remembrance of the Maccabees’ victory and the miracle of the oil, which burnt for eight consecutive days in the holy temple. Ideally, the menorah is lit just outside the doorway of the house, towards the left side. Other locations that can be used to light the candles is a window that faces the public or a table inside the house.


The ideal time for lighting the Menorah is immediately at nightfall. However, it is vital that all the members of the house are present while lighting the wicks. Hence, the timing can be altered according to the convenience of people. It is also important that the wicks remain lit for a minimum of 30 minutes after nightfall. On Friday afternoons, it is customary to light the menorah before sundown.

Lighting on the First Night

Place the menorah in front of you and add a single candle in the far right corner of the candle holder. A second candle is placed for the Shamash. After this, three blessings are recited and the candle on the right corner is lit by using the Shamash candle (also known as the helper candle).

Three Recitals

  • Borukh Ato Adoynoy Eloyheynu Melekh Ho-oylom Asher Kiddeshonu Be-mitsvoysov Ve-tsivonu Lehadlik Neyr Shel khanuko (translation – Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us by His commandments, and has commanded us to kindle the lights of Hanukkah).
  • Borukh Ato Adoynoy Eloyheynu Melekh Ho-oylom She-oso Nissim La-avoseynu Ba-yyomim Ho-heym Ba-zzman Ha-zze (translation – Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the universe, who wrought miracles for our fathers in days of old, at this season).
  • Borukh Ato Adoynoy Eloyheynu Melekh Ho-oylom She-hekheyonu Ve-kiymonu Ve-higgi’onu La-zzman Ha-zze (translation – Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has kept us alive, and has preserved us, and enabled us to reach this time).

Lighting on the Second & Subsequent Nights

During the second night, place the candles towards the far right of the candle holder and a third one for the Shamash. Then, recite the first two prayers as mentioned above and then use the Shamash while lighting the candles. Light the candles in a left to right direction. This procedure is to be observed for the remaining nights of the festival. Once the candles have been lit, the Maoz Tzur is sung by all the members and followers.

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