How Do You Spell Chanukah (Or Is It Hanukkah)?

Hanukkah has commenced. So has Chanukah, Hannukah, Hannukkah, and Channukah.

Confused? We don’t blame you. Why is this Jewish holiday, also known as the Festival of Lights, spelled in so many ways?

The right way to spell Hanukkah

The answer comes down to transliteration. Unlike translation, transliteration is when you “change (letters, words, etc.) into corresponding characters of another alphabet or language.” In Hebrew, the language from which the Jewish festival originates, the word for Hanukkah is not easily transliterated into English. This accounts for why there are so many spelling variants. But, Hanukkah and Chanukah are the two versions that are most widely used and accepted.

No matter how you spell it, Hanukkah lasts for eight days. It commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Scholars disagree about how to interpret the Hebrew word for Hanukkah. But one common interpretation is that it means “dedication.”

On each night of the holiday, a different branch of  a candelabrum called a menorah is illuminated. The festival is also celebrated by indulging in latkes, or fried potato pancakes. Children play a game involving a type of wooden or plastic top called a dreidel.

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