Hanukkah is the Jewish Festival of Lights. While not as overtly holy a Jewish holiday as Passover or Yom Kippur, Hanukkah has been embraced by the Western world as an often blue-and-white answer to the red and green of the gentile Christian winter holiday of Christmas—and Chanukah still holds a deep and profound meaning for many people of the Jewish faith that goes beyond secular celebrations.
To honor Chanukah, at sundown for eight nights, one additional candle in a menorah is added going from right to left, akin to the direction of Hebrew writing. This is a great time to recite Hanukkah blessings and Hanukkah prayers.
When lighting the menorah, the candles are lit each evening from left to right, starting with the shammash, the candle used to light all the others, followed by the newest candle addition (which will be furthest to left). The shammash candle is the only one lit with a lighter or match, and its light is used to set the rest of the candles aglow throughout the eight evenings.
Candles should ideally burn for at least 30 minutes. Most Hanukkah candles will last about an hour apiece. Some Jewish beliefs cite that menorahs should be placed in a window where they will be visible to others, but for many families, especially those with pets and children, that isn't feasible—so just put it on display somewhere safe and secure. The menorah shouldn't be moved from its place until at least half an hour after lighting.
When lighting the menorah, you can recite these Hanukkah blessings and Hanukkah prayers will honor the religion as well as the spirit of the holiday.
Hanukkah Blessings and Chanukah Prayers
Blessing for Each Night of Hanukkah
According to B'nai Mitzvah Academy, you can say the following prayer for each night of Hanukkah: "Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, who makes us holy with your commandments, commanding us to kindle (light) the Hanukkah lights."
According to Chabad.org, you can also recite this prayer: "Blessed are You, Lord our G‑d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to kindle the Chanukah light."
A second Hanukkah prayer they suggest is "Blessed are You, Lord our G‑d, King of the universe, who performed miracles for our forefathers in those days, at this time."
Prayer for the First Night of Chanukah
B'nai Mitzvah Academy recommends the following prayer for the inaugural night of Hanukkah: "Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season."
Next, check out these 50 best Hanukkah gifts!