Beginning from Mincha of the 24th of Kislev, until after the last day of Chanukah, Tachanun is omitted from the prayers.
May one visit a cemetery during Chanukah?
One is not to visit a cemetery during Chanukah. This includes even if one desires to visit the grave of a relative at the conclusion of Shiva, Shloshim or even a Yartzite. [However there are those which are lenient in this matter, and so is the prevalent custom.] One may visit a cemetery on Erev Chanukah. Hence if a Yartzite falls on Chanukah one is to go to the grave on Erev Chanukah. According to all one may visit the graves of Tzaddikim during Chanukah.
Eating and doing Melacha before candle lighting:
Began a meal beforehand: If one began eating a meal, or began performing other work, prior to the time of lighting, then he must stop and light the candles when the time arrives.
Half hour prior to candle lighting: Some say one should begin refraining from work a half hour before the time of candle lighting. Nevertheless one may learn Torah until the actual time of lighting arrives.
May one eat a meal or learn prior to lighting if he has a Shomer?
Not to do work on Chanukah while the candles are lit:
Work is permitted throughout the eight days of Chanukah. However, it is the custom for women not to do any work while the candles are lit [for the first half hour]. Women may not be lenient in this. [In some places such a custom exists likewise for men and so seems to be the Chabad custom. One should follow in accordance to his custom.]
Not to use the light-Contemplating the miracles: Work is specifically avoided while the candles are lit in order to serve as a reminder that it is forbidden to make use of the light. Alternatively this is done in order to properly contemplate the miracle that occurred.
Performing work after a half hour: After the candles have been lit for a half hour one may perform all forms of work, though not in full view of the burning lights. This applies equally to the first and last night’s of Chanukah.
Women may not perform work within 30 minutes from when the candles are lit. After 30 minutes work may be done not in the presence of the candles. Although this prohibition does not apply to men it is the Chabad custom for men to remain near the candles for their first 30 minutes and likewise avoid performance of work.
Which types of work are refrained from being done in the first half hour of the lighting?
Some write that one is not to do any work that is forbidden on Yom Tov. Hence only forms of work permitted on Yom Tov are permitted at this time. Others write that only clothing related work is forbidden, such as laundry and sewing and the like. [Nonetheless it is best to refrain from doing any work in order to properly contemplate the Chanukah miracle.]
May a woman cook or prepare dinner while the candles are lit?
It is best to refrain from doing any work, including cooking and meal preparations for the first half hour in order to properly contemplate the Chanukah miracle.
Sparks of Chassidus
A Segula for woman:
There is a tradition recorded that women which refrain from working on Chanukah receive healing and Divine assistance. Hence some women have a tradition that if they ever enter into danger they vow not to do work on one of the days of Chanukah and they are saved.
 Rama 683/1
 Ben Ish Chaiy Vayeishev 22; Piskeiy Teshuvos 670/1
 The reason: As one is not is not to say a eulogy during Chanukah and by going to the gravesite one arouses mourning.
 Brought in Piskeiy Teshuvos 670/1
 Gesher Hachaim 1 p. 259
 Beir Heiytiv 672/2; Mishneh Berurah 672/10
 See Shaar HaTziyon 672/14; Those who light after Tzeis are to separate from Melacha from when Tzeis arrives. Those who light after sunset are to separate from Melacha from when sunset arrives.
 The reason: One cannot say that today one may be completely lenient regarding Melacha and meals being that the Rama holds there is no real need to light on time being that we light inside. The reason for this is because according to all the beginning time of lighting is either by Tzeis or sunset and goes throughout the night, and if one does not do so prior to eating or Melacha he may forget to do so all together. This is similar to the decree prior to Mincha or Maariv, or Bedikas Chameitz according to Magen Avraham and others which hold there is no obligation to check exactly by Tzeis.
 Shaar HaTziyon 672/14
 The reason: As there is a dispute as to its actual time and one may thus be lenient.
 See below
 The reason for the custom by women: The reason for why this custom relates specifically to women is because it is through them that the miracle took place. [Taz 670/2; M”A 670/1. As explained above regarding Yehudis who killed the general that besieged Jerusalem.] Alternatively the reason is because the decrees of the Geeks were especially difficult for women as they were decreed to spend the first night of their wedding with the Greek master. [Kitzur SH”A 139/3] As for why they specifically avoid work while the candles are lit, this is in order to serve as a reminder that it is forbidden to make use of the light [Machatzis Hashekel brought in M”B 670/4], or alternatively in order to properly contemplate the miracle that occurred. [Levush 570/1, brought also in Kaf Hachaim 570/7]
 Michaber ibid states: Some say one may not allow women to be lenient in this matter.
 Taz 670/2 in name of Mahril who received such a tradition; M”B 670/3. Taz himself rules that men are certainly not included in this custom.
 Several Melaktim [Shevach Hamoadim, Piskeiy Teshuvos] do not mention this law to also apply regarding men. However in Hiskashrus [Chanukah] he learns from Sefer Haminhagim, [which stares that one is to stay near the lights for 30 minutes], that also men are to avoid work during that half hour, as learns the Mahril. Likewise this is also implied from a later section of Sefer Haminhagim which states that after the set time one may do work not in full view of the candles. This implies that prior to the set time one may not do work at all.
 Machatzis Hashekel brought in M”B 670/4
 Levush 570/1, brought also in Kaf Hachaim 570/7
 M”B 670/4; Sefer Haminhagim p. 160 [English edition]
Other Opinions: The simple meaning behind the words of the Michaber is that work may not be done by women so long as the candles are lit. The Magen Avraham explains this to mean until the candles of the Shul extinguish, which is until midnight. Others have a custom to refrain from work the entire festival of Chanukah although others have denounced this custom and asked for it to be nullified. [M”A 670/2]
 Sefer Haminhagim ibid; See Michaber 672/2 that work may even be done in view of the candles. However see M”B 672/8 from Rashal brought in M”A ibid that one may not do work using the light of the candles so long as they are lit.
 Sefer Haminhagim ibid
 Piskeiy Teshuvos 670/2
 The Munkatcher would not even write while the candles are lit. [ibid]
 The reason: As it is illogical to claim that the work at this time is more severe than that of Chol Hamoed. [ibid]
 See next Q&A regarding cooking.
 It is permitted to cook and do other meal preparations. However some have written that it is best to refrain from the above during the first half hour. [Piskeiy Teshuvos 670/2] Practically so seems to be the proper custom, to avoid all work at all in order to properly contemplate the Chanukah miracle during that time, as writes the Levush.
 Ben Ish Chaiy brought in Kaf Hachaim 670/10