In order to honor Shabbat as a special time, separate from the rest of our week, we recite blessings over the candles, the wine, and the challah.
Candles: Lighting the candles is a symbolic way to separate Shabbat from the rest of the week and mark the time as special. After lighting the candles, it is customary to close your eyes and make a hand motion drawing the flame towards you before you say the prayer, and opening your eyes only at the prayer’s conclusion. This motion is used to draw the light and warmth of Shabbat close to you, inviting it into your home and personal space.
Candle Lighting Blessing
Wine: Wine, or grape juice when more appropriate, is a symbol of celebration. We say the blessing with a full cup, honoring the abundance of the earth. Upon reciting the blessing for wine it is customary for everyone to take a sip from either the cup used for the blessing or their own, ensuring that our first taste of Shabbat is filled with joyousness and an appreciation of all that the world has given us.
Challah: Challah is traditionally, but not always, a braided egg bread and is blessed last. It is typically kept covered during the other blessings so that it does not feel bad about being the last to be blessed, thus demonstrating a regard for the care and thought that went into making it. The bread symbolizes all the food that we eat. However, using a special type of bread distinct from the kinds we usually eat, also sets Shabbat apart from the rest of the week.