Hanukkah vs Chanukah: The Right Way to Spell

There are more than 18 possible ways to spell Hanukkah.…

There are more than 18 possible ways to spell Hanukkah. Because Hanukkah is transliterated from Hebrew letters, there are numerous ways to spell the holiday’s name.

Most frequently used in English are “Hanukkah” and “Chanukah.” Before we delve into its spellings, let’s crack its meaning! 

What is Hanukkah? The meaning of Hanukkah is “dedication.” The event commemorates the victory of the Maccabees, a group of Jewish rebels, over the Greco-Syrians in recovering their temple.

Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday that commemorates the re-dedication of the Holy Temple (the Second Temple) in Jerusalem.

On 25 Kislev, according to the Hebrew calendar, Hanukkah is commemorated for eight nights and days. The celebration occurs at any time between late November and December in Gregorian calendars.

Now that we know the genesis of Hanukkah, let’s delve into significant facts of the tradition and explore ways to spell Hanukkah.

There are more than 18 possible ways to spell Hanukkah.
Ways to Spell Hanukkah (or is it Chanukah?)

Ways to Spell Hanukkah (or is it Chanukah?)

Hanukkah has a whopping 24 distinct spellings in the Oxford English Dictionary. With a few exceptions, there are 18 different spellings based on four different ways words sound:

  • “H” or “Ch” is the first letter.
  • “nn” or “n” is the second consonant.
  • “kk” or “k” is the third consonant.
  • “ah” or “a” comes at the end of the word.

The 18 different spellings are:

  • Hanukkah, Chanukah, Hanukah, Hannukah, Chanuka
  • Chanukkah, Hanuka, Channukah, Chanukka, Hanukka
  • Hannuka, Hannukkah, Channuka, Xanuka, Hannukka,
  • Channukkah, Channukka, Chanuqa

As long as you understand what the holiday is all about, it doesn’t matter how you spell it.

Hanukkah and Chanukah are the most prevalent spellings, yet as a society, we haven’t been able to settle on a single correct spelling. (Is there anything more Judaic than this?)

Why is there such a fuss spelling ‘Hanukkah’? In a nutshell, it boils down to transliteration difficulties. There is no established system for transliterating Hebrew to English; thus, it’s a case-by-case scenario.

Many Hebrew and Yiddish nouns (such as Matza/Matzo) have numerous spellings. The word “Hanukkah” begins with the letter “Chet” in Hebrew. Chet has been a particularly contentious letter to transliterate due to the lack of an English “Ch” sound (similar to a Spanish “j” sound). 

“H” and “Ch.” are acceptable terms of endearment. We spell ‘Hanukkah’ with a double “k,” whereas ‘Chanukah’ is just one.

A common argument for this is: “why double the k?” This question is impossible because, in current Hebrew, the sound is identical to that of a single English k. 

The dagesh indicates a consonant’s intensification (or doubling) in Classical Hebrew. The diacritic mark is a dagesh: a little dot inside the Hebrew letter kaf () modifies how we pronounce the letter.”

Significant Facts to Know about Hanukkah

Compared to other Jewish holidays, Hanukkah is not a significant religious celebration.

During the Hanukkah holiday, around 17.5 million donuts are consumed in Israel. Sufganiyot—oily jelly donuts—are a traditional Hanukkah dish in Israel.

Dreidel is a popular gambling game during the Hanukkah festival. The Dreidel Was Used To Disguise Oneself While Engaging in Torah Study. 

Because it was illegal for Jews to study the Torah in Ancient Greece, they used the dreidel to deceive the Greeks if caught.

There is no religious significance to the Hanukkah candles. They are not to be used for anything productive or of any use to anyone. The shamus is readily available, ensuring that the Hanukkah candles aren’t unintentionally used to light the fireplace or serve other functions.

The White House Participates In Hanukkah Festivities. Hanukkah was officially recognized as a federal holiday by Jimmy Carter in 1979, and every president has held a menorah lighting ceremony.

To Wrap Up

Hanukkah is spelled differently depending on the country or language it is written in. However, it doesn’t matter which one you choose. You have nothing to fear from insulting anyone — not even Jews.

Frequently asked questions

What are the three 3 spellings of Hanukkah?

Hanukkah : 8,470,000 hits. Chanukah : 3,390,000 hits. Hanukah : 862,000 hits. Hannukah : 677,000 hits.

Why do some people spell Hanukkah with AC?

In Hebrew, chet is a guttural, throaty sound that resembles Johann Brach’s “ch”. Chanukah was then spelled Chanukane with a “ch” in this way.

Why is Hanukkah and Chanukah spelled differently?

Hanukkah comes from Hebrew, and Hebrew and English are written in different alphabets. It is therefore crucial that Hebrew words are transliterated (converted from one alphabet into another) for English to be readable.

What is the correct way to spell Halloween?

Halloween’s earlier name All Hallows Even (or Eve) is based on the year it took place the night before All Hallowing Day, now known as All Saints Day. Hallowe’en and Halloween have become official terms for All Hallows Even.

Is it proper to say Happy Hanukkah?

Hanukkah is traditionally celebrated in English as the Jewish holiday. Nevertheless, this is not the only way to recognize a holiday or wish celebratory cheer.

What is the Hebrew spelling of Hanukkah?

Alternative spellings Hebrew: Hanukkah is written as (ănuk) or. It is most commonly translated to English as Hanukkah or Chanukah.

Is there a difference between Hanukkah and Chanukah?

Hanukkah is an accepted spelling, whereas Chanukah is more traditional. Many spelling differences are caused by transliteration. Hebrew does not use the Latin alphabet, which is the standard script in many languages, including English.

How do you spell Happy Hanukkah?

It is possible to wish someone a Happy Hanukkah by saying “Happy Hanukkale Sameach” (Happy Hanukah) or simply “Chag Sameach!” (Happy Holiday).

What’s the correct spelling for Hallelujah?

Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary of Latin America, Merriam Webster, accessed at www.merriam-webster.co.uk/dictionary/hallelujah.

Where did the word Hanukkah come from?

Hanukkah takes its name from the Hebrew word for “dedication,” “consecration” or “inauguration.” It refers to the Jews’ rededication of the Second Temple in the second century B.C.E.

Who celebrates Hanukkah?

Hanukkah or Chanukah commemorates the rededication of Hanukayah in the second century B.C. In Jerusalem, Jews stood up against Greek-Syrian oppressors during the Maccabean Revolt.

How do you pronounce Chanuka?

What is the meaning of Chanukah?

With Chanukah, the Holy Temple in Jerusalem is rededicated, and this holiday commemorates the occasion.

How do you spell Hanukkah in Spanish?

Unlike English and French, Spanish has a sound equivalent to the H at the beginning of Hanukkah, making it the only correct spelling: janucá. Hanukkah is also known by two names: Festival of Lights – the Fiesta de las Luminarias.

How are Hanukkah and Kwanzaa different?

Although they both use candles, Kwanzaa lasts seven days and Hanukkah lasts eight. In Hanukkah, the light of the candles is significant, and so are the red, black, and green colors of the lamps.

Hanukkah vs Chanukah: The Right Way to Spell

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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