Hanukkah is a Jewish festival commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem it is also known as the Festival of Lights.
Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar.
The festival is observed by lighting the candles of a candelabrum with nine branches, called a menorah (or Hanukkah). One branch is typically placed above or below the others and its candle is used to light the other eight candles.
This unique candle is called the Shamash. Each night, one additional candle is lit by the Shamash until all eight candles are lit together on the final night of the festival.
If for whatever reason one didn't light at sunset or nightfall, the lights should be kindled later, as long as there are people in the streets. Later than that, the lights should still be kindled, but the blessings should be recited only if there is at least somebody else awake in the house and present at the lighting of the Hanukkah lights.
Typically two blessings (brachot; singular:brachah) are recited during this eight-day festival when lighting the candles. On the first night, the shehecheyanu blessing is added, making a total of three blessings.
The blessings are said before or after the candles are lit depending on tradition. On the first night of Hanukkah one light (candle or oil) is lit on the right side of the menorah, on the following night a second light is placed to the left of the first but it is lit first, and so on, proceeding from placing candles right to left but lighting them from left to right over the eight nights
Other Hanukkah festivities include playing the game of dreidel, and eating oil-based foods, such as latkes and sufganiyot, and dairy foods.
Although a relatively minor holiday in strictly religious terms, Hanukkah has attained major cultural significance among secular Jews as a Jewish alternative to Christmas, and is often celebrated correspondingly fervently.
North Wales Fire & Rescue Service would like to offer fire safety advice to people celebrating Hanukkah.
Hanukkah is a time for celebration so please stay safe and follow our safety tips below.
- Smoke alarms save lives - so please make sure you have a working smoke alarm installed on every floor of your home. If there is a fire, a smoke alarm will immediately warn you, giving you and everyone in your home time to escape to safety.
Menorah candle fire safety
- Never leave a lit menorah unattended.
- The menorah should be made of non-flammable material only.
- Never place the menorah near or under flammable material such as papers, curtains or books.
- Do not walk around while holding a lit candle.
- Put out candles before you leave a room and before you go to bed
- Keep matches and lighters away from children - out of reach.
- Supervise any child that lights a menorah. Place their menorah close to the child so they don't have to reach over another menorah.
Hanukkah - cooking safely
- When frying, keep children away from the stove. Some people create a “3-foot” safety zone around the stove when the latkes are frying. Others use the further burners so children cannot reach the flames.
- Take extra care when deep-fat frying or cooking with oil - hot oil can catch fire easily - use a thermostat controlled deep-fat fryer which will make sure the fat doesn't get too hot
- Don't get distracted when you are cooking - turn off or turn down the heat if you have to leave the cooking unattended
- Keep tea towels, clothes and electrical leads away from the cooker and hob
- Make sure saucepan handles are not sticking out from the hob or over a naked flame
- Remember to check that the oven or hob are switched off after you have finished cooking
- In the event of a fire involving oil, do not use water to put it out!
If clothing catches fire
- In the event that clothing catches fire - remember to STOP, DROP, COVER and ROLL:
- Stop where you are. Do not run. Running can make things worse.
- Drop to the ground. Lay flat with your legs out straight.
- Cover your eyes and mouth with your hands.
- Roll over and over and back and forth until the flames are out.
- Get help straight away.
- Then, COOL, CALL and COVER:
- Cool the burn with running cool tap water for 20 minutes.
- Call for help – 999, 111 or your local GP for advice.
- Cover with cling film while transferring to a hospital/GP surgery.
Please have a happy and safe Hanukkah.