Traditionally, on the first night of Hanukkah, you read the Blessing Over The Hanukkah Candles, Blessing For Hanukkah, and Shehecheyanu. And then, for the next seven nights, you just read the Blessing Over The Hanukkah Candles and the Blessing For Hanukkah. However, the Shehecheyanu, is such a sweet prayer about gratitude that we like to include it on all eight nights.
Now, before you jump right in, you need to put the candles into the menorah. And, yes, there is a tradition for this. You are supposed to place the candles in the menorah from right to left, and then light them left to right. After an exhaustive Google and rabbi search, we still don’t know why. By the way, the wax in Hanukkah candles almost always drips, so put foil or something under the menorah to protect your table.
You will notice that your menorah has one taller candle holder than the others. This is for the shamash, or “helper” candle. On the ﬁrst night of the holiday, put candles in the shamash and the far-right candle space. On the second night, you will need three candles. One for the shamash, the far-right candle space, and the one next to it. And then every night, you add one more candle, until on the last night you have ﬁlled up all the spaces on the menorah. For those who are not math whizzes, this means you need 44 candles for the whole holiday. Unless you have lots of menorahs. Then you’re on your own. Oh, Hanukkah candles are thin and sometimes break, so get extra.
When you are ready to start, light the shamash candle with a match. Then take the shamash and use it to light the other candles, left to right. And then, put the shamash back in its spot and recite the blessings!
According to tradition, you are supposed to place the menorah near your front window, facing the street, because lighting them is bringing light into the world that could frankly use more light. Also, it is a beautiful idea to show your neighborhood the light that comes from inside your home. In addition, it can be a beautiful sign of a multicultural community. But be careful if you have curtains. Or racists in the neighborhood. Also, don’t blow the candles out unless you are really running late and worried about missing the beginning of the movie. Then there is probably some rabbinic exception. But seriously, you are supposed to let them burn out on their own. Add a little interest by making bets on which candles will burn out first and last.
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