Candle lighting ceremonies have long been a part of Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah celebrations (psst. Want to know more about what a candle lighting ceremony is? I got you covered). I mean, I remember being a slightly awkward 13-year-old and standing in front of a cake calling up family and friends to light candles. However, the tide seems to be turning. Less than half of the Bar or Bat Mitzvahs that I’ve done in the last year have included one. Should you have a candle lighting ceremony? Here are some pros and cons so that you can make the choice.
Pros to a candle lighting ceremony
A candle lighting ceremony is a way to publically honor people who have been important in your child’s life. Yes, there are other opportunities to honor family and friends–aliyahs, kiddush, motzi, etc., but they are limited. Candle lighting ceremonies allow ALL of those people to get their moment in the sun.
Along the same lines, a candle lighting ceremony is a great photo opportunity. Time is limited to get photos of your child with friends and family and this will ensure you get at least 1 image of the most important people.
Cons to a candle lighting ceremony
A candle lighting ceremony can take a long time. Each candle requires honoree(s) to walk to the table, light the candle, give the Mitzvah child a hug and then take a photo. Multiply that by 13 and you’ve easily taken at least 20-25 minutes from your party. That’s time you and your child could be dancing, playing games or shmoozing with friends. It’s also more than enough time for your guests (especially the tweens) to get antsy, chat with each other and stop paying attention.
These ceremonies can exclude people and make them feel left out or uncomfortable. Imagine sitting and waiting to see if you’ve made the cut to be called up to light a candle, especially as a pre-teen. How would you feel if you waited and were never called?
Things to consider
There are a few things you should consider when making the decision of whether or not to have a candle lighting ceremony. First, how comfortable is your child speaking in front of a group? Next, there is a lot of preparation that needs to happen prior to the ceremony. Who will write the poems/speeches for each candle? What song will play as the honoree walks up? What will the candelabra look like? Who will set everything up? Also, will you be having a photo montage? A montage is a much shorter way to honor family and friends by showing photos of special times with special people. Finally, what kind of party do you want? Do you want people to be up and dancing or do you want to have a more subdued party?