Yahrzeit Candles and Jewish Traditions


At St. Charles Monuments of Long Island, we understand the importance of faith and traditions during a time of loss. We have knowledge of the appropriate practices following the passing of a loved one. We can help guide you in the right direction of choosing the right Jewish Monuments, covering cloth and Yahrzeit candles. Below is a brief guide about the meaning of Yahrzeit candles, the practices and directions.

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Symbolic Meaning:

The word “Yahrzeit” symbolizes the one year anniversary of death. The Yahrzeit, also known as a memorial candle, is created to honor a loved ones death. The Yahrzeit candle is lit 24 hours prior to specific holidays/occasions. In Jewish tradition, the candles flame and wick symbolizes the human soul and body. The flickering represents the fragility of life and reinforces the importance of family and life.

When Should You Light Yahrzeit Candles?

Normally the Yahrzeit candle is lit after the loved one has passed and on the holidays preceding. The first lighting of the candle is during the week of Shiva which lasts 7 days. After that a candle is lit once a year at sundown, the night before the anniversary of their death. Also these candles will be lit during sundown of Yom Kippur, Sukkoth, Passover and Shavuot. Part of the tradition is to allow the candles to extinguish themselves. If by chance you forgot to light the candle the night before, you may do so the morning after.


Who Should be Lighting the Candles?

These Jewish traditional candles are normally lit by parents, spouses and children. Normally one candle should be lit by each family member unless they live in the same household. If the immediate family lives apart, each family member should light a candle for their household. There should be one candle for each specific family member if more than one is deceased. There is no specific prayer to be recited when lighting the candle, although some may recite certain Psalms. Many families will take this time to talk about special memories they’ve shared with the passed loved one.


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