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How is the First Night of Hanukkah Celebrated?

Hanukkah is a time of celebration, and, like any holiday, requires a bit of prep work and knowledge of the traditions associated with it. So, how is the first night of Hanukkah celebrated, and how can you be ready for it?

Prepping for Hanukkah

There are a few things that Jewish people need to do in order to prepare for Hanukkah. 

  • Gather nine candles – eight of equal height and one “helper” candle. Ideally, these will be made of cotton wicks with either olive oil or beeswax as the fuel.
  • Find a menorah. The eight nightly candles should be in a straight row, with the helper candle either higher up or in a separate row. 
  • Set up the menorah. The menorah should be placed either in a doorway opposite the mezuzah (the scroll containing portions of the Shema which is affixed to a doorpost in Jewish homes and businesses) or on a windowsill that faces a public place like a road or walkway. Wherever it is, the placement should be sturdy, fireproofed, and away from kids and pets.

Lighting the First Candle

On the first night of Hanukkah, the family should gather around the menorah shortly after sunset (or after nightfall, which is defined as the time when the first of the stars are visible in the sky). 

The shamash (helper candle) and one candle are placed on the menorah, with the first nightly candle set up on the far right. Blessings are said over the candles, and the shamash is lit, then used to light the first candle. This candle is burned for at least 30 minutes past nightfall.  

Anyone can light the menorah candles. In fact, it’s encouraged for kids to have their own menorahs (as long as they are supervised!) so that they can learn and participate in the traditions of the holiday.

After the lighting of the candles, traditions vary from family to family, but may include a meal or festive treats, games, or gift-giving.


Hanukkah is a time of festive joy. If you’re still looking for the right gifts for your family and friends, consider offering them a kosher gift basket from Kosherline. Our hand-curated baskets contain treats for the whole family, from snacks to sweets and many other high-quality goods.

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