Candles are kindled on most Jewish holidays of Biblical origin. They are: Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret, Passover (first and last days), and Shavuot. (Holiday candles are not lit on Chanukah or Purim.)

Holiday candle lighting follows a procedure similar to that of the Shabbat candle lighting.1

The basic difference between the two is that while it is forbidden to create a flame on a holiday, it is permitted to light a candle using a pre-existing flame, such as another candle that was kindled before the holiday, a gas range which has been left on, or a pilot flame.2 Note that it is also forbidden to extinguish a flame on the holiday, so make sure you have a place to put down the candle or match that you used to kindle your holiday candles.

The following are the basic laws and customs which are unique to holiday candle lighting:

Outside of Israel, most holidays are two-day affairs.

On the first night of a holiday: Ideally the candles should be lit – just as on every Friday afternoon – eighteen minutes before sunset.3 However, the candles can be lit anytime before the holiday meal.4 If the candles are lit after sunset, they should be lit from a pre-existing flame. Exceptions: a) If the first night of the holiday is Friday night, the candles must be kindled before sunset. b) If the first night of the holiday is Saturday night, the candles must be kindled after nightfall (from a pre-existing flame).

On the second night of a holiday: The candles should be lit, from a pre-existing flame, after nightfall. (Additionally, all preparations for the candle lighting, such as arranging the candlesticks and candles, may not start before nightfall.5) If the second night of the holiday is Friday night, the candles must be kindled before sunset, also from a pre-existing flame.

Whenever a holiday night falls out on Saturday night, before lighting the holiday candles one says6:

Ba-rooch ha-mav-deel bein ko-desh le-ko-desh

"Blessed be He who separates between [the] holiness [of Shabbat] and [the] holiness [of the holiday]."7

The blessing for holiday candle-lighting varies depending on the holiday.

After reciting the holiday candle-lighting blessing, the Shehecheyanu blessing is recited, thanking G‑d for giving us the life and strength to reach this special day.

The Shehecheyanu blessing is not recited when lighting the candles on the last days of Passover. On the second night of Rosh Hashanah, the kindler should wear a new garment or have a new seasonal fruit on the table while lighting the candles, and have it in mind when reciting the Shehecheyanu blessing.8

During the holiday of Sukkot, the candles should be lit in the sukkah, and should remain there throughout the meal. If it is windy outside, and there is concern that the candles might be extinguished, the candles should be placed in a window or doorway, visible to those sitting in the sukkah.9


Blessings for the holiday of Rosh Hashanah:

Bo-ruch a-toh Ado-noi E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ho-olom a-sher ki-de-sha-nu be-mitz-vo-sov ve-tzi-vo-nu le-had-lik ner shel Yom Ha-zi-karon.

Translation: Blessed are you, L-rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and has commanded us to kindle the light of the Day of Remembrance.

The Shehecheyonu blessing:

Bo-ruch a-toh Ado-noi E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ho-olom she-he-che-ya-nu vi-kee-yi-ma-nu vi-hi-gee-an-u liz-man ha-zeh.

Translation: Blessed are you, L-rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who has kept us alive and sustained us and let us reach this time.

The blessings when Rosh Hashanah falls on Shabbat

Bo-ruch a-toh Ado-noi E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ho-olom a-sher ki-de-sha-nu be-mitz-vo-sov ve-tzi-vo-nu le-had-lik ner shel Sha-bos v'shel Yom Ha-zi-karon.

Translation: Blessed are you, L-rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and has commanded us to kindle the light of the Sabbath and of the Day of Remembrance.

The Shehecheyonu blessing:

Bo-ruch a-toh Ado-noi E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ho-olom she-he-che-ya-nu vi-kee-yi-ma-nu vi-hi-gee-an-u liz-man ha-zeh.

Translation: Blessed are you, L-rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who has kept us alive and sustained us and let us reach this time.


Blessings for Yom Kippur:

Bo-ruch a-toh Ado-noi E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ho-olom a-sher ki-de-sha-nu be-mitz-vo-sov ve-tzi-vo-nu le-had-lik ner shel Yom Ha-kipurim.

Translation: Blessed are you, L-rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and has commanded us to kindle the light of the Day of Atonement.

The Shehecheyonu blessing:

Bo-ruch a-toh Ado-noi E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ho-olom she-he-che-ya-nu vi-kee-yi-ma-nu vi-hi-gee-an-u liz-man ha-zeh.

Translation: Blessed are you, L-rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who has kept us alive and sustained us and let us reach this time.

The blessings when Yom Kippur that Falls on Shabbat

Bo-ruch a-toh Ado-noi E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ho-olom a-sher ki-de-sha-nu be-mitz-vo-sov ve-tzi-vo-nu le-had-lik ner shel Sha-bos v'shel Yom Ha-kipurim.

Translation: Blessed are you, L-rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and has commanded us to kindle the light of the Sabbath and of the Day of Atonement.

The Shehecheyonu blessing:

Bo-ruch a-toh Ado-noi E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ho-olom she-he-che-ya-nu vi-kee-yi-ma-nu vi-hi-gee-an-u liz-man ha-zeh.

Translation: Blessed are you, L-rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who has kept us alive and sustained us and let us reach this time.


Blessings for the Festivals (Passover, Shavuot, Sukkot)

Bo-ruch a-toh Ado-noi E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ho-olom a-sher ki-de-sha-nu be-mitz-vo-sov ve-tzi-vo-nu le-had-lik ner shel Yom Tov.

Translation: Blessed are you, L-rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and has commanded us to kindle the light of the Festival Day.

The Shehecheyonu blessing:

Bo-ruch a-toh Ado-noi E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ho-olom she-he-che-ya-nu vi-kee-yi-ma-nu vi-hi-gee-an-u liz-man ha-zeh.

Translation: Blessed are you, L-rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who has kept us alive and sustained us and let us reach this time.

The blessing when any Festival Falls out on Shabbat

Bo-ruch a-toh Ado-noi E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ho-olom a-sher ki-de-sha-nu be-mitz-vo-sov ve-tzi-vo-nu le-had-lik ner shel Sha-bos v'shel Yom Tov.

Translation: Blessed are you, L-rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and has commanded us to kindle the light of the Sabbath and the Festival Day.

The Shehecheyonu blessing:

Bo-ruch a-toh Ado-noi E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ho-olom she-he-che-ya-nu vi-kee-yi-ma-nu vi-hi-gee-an-u liz-man ha-zeh.

Translation: Blessed are you, L-rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who has kept us alive and sustained us and let us reach this time.