Candle Lighting Alternatives, By Bari Cener
To do a candle lighting or not to do a candle lighting…that is the question that faces many families when planning their Bar/Bat Mitzvah parties. It can be one of the most interactive parts of a celebration and a great way for the host family and guest of honor to show love and appreciation to family and friends. “In a practical sense, it’s a photo opportunity for the Bar/Bat Mitzvah child to get a picture with the people closest to them,” says event planner Melisa Imberman, owner of The Event Of A Lifetime in Millwood, NY.
But for some, a traditional candle lighting ceremony doesn’t fit into their vision of the perfect event. Many families have a less informal celebration at an event space or sports facility, while others feel that they don’t want to interrupt the party or have something that runs so long that people start getting bored. And yet others run into a situation where there are too many people they’d like to include and they worry about leaving somebody out and causing hurt feelings.
Instead of letting these issues cause you to forgo the entire thing, why not get inventive and think outside the box by finding alternatives to the traditional 13 candles on a cake. One way to capture the essence of the ceremony, but still keep it short and sweet, is to light three candles representing the child’s past, present, and future.
With so much food at most parties, no one will mind if you can forgo the cake completely. Instead, you can use anything from cupcakes to candy, flowerpots to toys to hold the candles. It’s the perfect way to incorporate your theme, using miniature team shirts for a sports-themed party, for example, or bulbs that get lit up on a sign with the child’s name for a Broadway-themed event.
Photo credit: Linda Morrow
The Levitan Family decided on a creative candle lighting ceremony with neither cake nor candles since their synagogue didn’t permit them to be lit on the Sabbath. Instead, each person honored was asked to pour a glass of wine into an oversized goblet for a “Cup of Life” ceremony. Each glass of wine had a theme, such as Cup of Good Health, Cup of Love and Cup of Happiness.
Another non-traditional idea is to use sand. As each person or group is called up to be honored, they fill a Lucite container with cups of different colored sand, creating a sand sculpture that can be kept as a treasured keepsake, explains Hillary Meisner of Meisner Art. Or how about filling a container with Hershey’s kisses wrapped in colorful foil, marbles, shells, pretty stones or even colored water. After all, it’s the thought that counts.
At another Bat Mitzvah, Sarah Merians Photography and Videography captured family and friends as they added dirt, seeds, water and plant food into planting pots. Later, as the plants grew, it was a regular reminder of the special occasion.
One of the most modern candle lighting ceremonies we’ve seen is a video that played off of the Wii game “Just Dance.” “This game was something the whole family enjoyed together, as there was a big age difference between the siblings,” says Imberman, so they decided to include it in their celebration. On the video monitors around the room, guests watched as the family of “Mii” characters danced on screen with a piece of cake and a flame for each person honored.
Watch it here
This family’s candle lighting ceremony was a big hit at their party! Just as it started, the Party Harty Entertainment dancers handed all the guests a Safe Flame candle. As guests were called up, they first lit their candle (battery operated) and then came up to the cake for a picture. Everyone in the room was asked to come up at some point so the whole room was lit up by the end of the candle lighting.
The bottom line is that however you choose to perform your candle lighting ceremony, be assured that there is no right or wrong way. Have fun with it and so will everyone else.
This story is from the 2013 Mitzvah Market Magazine. If you would like to request a free copy, click here.