How Do You Spell "Hanukkah?"

There are at least 4 ways!

Ken Pauli
December 12, 2017 - 3:00 am
Hanukkah family celebration



Sundown on Tuesday, December 12, begins the traditional Festival of Lights for the Jewish people. It commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem where a one day supply of oil miraculously burned for eight days. But there’s a controversy over the holiday that’s been going on for some 2000 years.  

That age-old question is, "How do you spell Hanukkah?"   

Confusion has surrounded the holiday’s spelling since the very first celebration, so The Manischewitz Company, the largest marketer of Kosher foods in North America, hoped to settle that question with a nationwide survey to find out which is correct.  The 2,171 respondents to the survey were presented with four spelling options: Hanukkah, Hanukah, Chanukah and Channukah – all considered acceptable spellings. The preferred spelling ended up being HANUKKAH.  But wait!  That spelling was the preferred spelling among ALL those who responded.  Of the people who identified as Jewish who took the survey, the preferred spelling was CHANUKAH!  Oye vay!

The reason for so many spellings comes down to transliteration.  In Hebrew, the language from which the Jewish festival originates, the word is not easily transliterated into English.  (Transliteration is the writing or printing of a letter or word using the closest corresponding letters of a different alphabet or language, and not taking into account pronunciation.)  Hanukkah or Chanukah in Hebrew is חֲנֻכָּה‎.  This accounts for why there are so many spelling variants.

For some fun, learn how to say "Happy Chanukah" in Hebrew HERE.

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