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What Is Hanukka And How Do You Spell It?


The Ultimate Guide to the History and Spelling Hanukkah

Welcome to this ultimate guide of Hanukkah. Let’s discover what it is all about, the background and that all-important question: ‘how to spell hanukkah’.

What is Hanukkah?

Hanukkah is a wintertime festival celebrated by the Jews lasting eight days. It is also known as the “festival of lights” as candlelight is of great importance in the background of this occasion. Special prayers, fried foods, and the menorah lighting are the significant parts of this festival. 

It is a wonderful time filled with family, fun, food and games but also the celebration of an ancient miracle. Educate children about Hanukkah with The Story of Hanukkah. So now we know what Hanukkah is, let’s find out how to spell Hanukkah.


How to Spell Hanukkah

In the Hebrew language, which is the language of the bible and was spoken in ancient Palestine, Hanukkah, also spelt as Hanukah, Chanukkah, or Chanukah, means “rededication.” It has a little difference in its spells because it is translated from the Hebrew language, and in English, almost 16 different spellings are found, but the most common ones used are the ones given above.

The rededication points towards reaffirming of the Second Temple in Jerusalem during the second century B.C. after battles between Syrian tyrants and Maccabean rebellions.  This Hebrew word is pronounced with a “kh” sound i.e. kha-nu-kah. Some pronounce it as ha. nuh. kah as well. So, there we go. How to spell Hanukkah.

Background of Hanukkah

Now we know how to spell Hanukkah, what is the history of this festival and, when does it start?

It was around 168 B.C. when Antiochus IV, a cruel king of Syria, attacked Jerusalem. After killing thousands of people and destroying the Second Holy Temple, he outlawed the Jewish religion. He forced the Jews to worship their Greek gods to integrate them more into Greek culture and traditions.

The study of the Torah, which was the holy book of Jews and the most important document of Judaism, was also abandoned. Mattathias, a Jewish priest and his five sons started a rebellion that spread on a vast scale. After the death of Mattathias, his son Judah known as Maccabee (the Hammer), led this movement. After two years, the Syrians were driven out of Jerusalem by the Jews.  The Second Temple had been ruined and destroyed by the invaders, which was then rebuilt and revived.

The Miracle of Hanukkah

According to Judaism’s beliefs, after the rededication of the second temple, a miracle was observed.  It is known as the” miracle of the oil.” A menorah was lit in the temple after it was cleansed. There was only a small amount of oil present that was able to keep the menorah lit for only one night, but the Maccabees saw that the menorah kept burning continuously for eight days and eight nights, which was a miracle.

The Maccabees strongly believed that it was a sign fro good that he is with them, and this light was a message of hope and life.  This is the reason Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days, referring to the eight days and nights the menorah kept burning.

When Does Hanukkah Start?

It starts on the eve of Kislev 25. Kislev is a month in the Jewish calendar.  The Jewish calendar is lunar i.e.; its dates depend on the moon. Kislev can overlap with late November to late December.

Hanukkah 2020

This year i. e. 2020 Hanukkah will start from the evening of Thursday, 10th December, and will continue till the evening of Friday, 18th December, making it exactly eight days. Hanukkah festival is a vacation period in Israel, and schools are also closed during this duration. 

Traditional Foods of Hanukkah Festival

There are some traditional foods considered the specialty of this festival having cheese and oil i.e., fried items as a significant component. Oil is related to the miracle of the oil lasting for eight days, and cheese is similar to Judith’s victory. Judith, who was a young and beautiful widow among the Maccabees, wrote a story of strength and courage in history. She charmed a Syrian army general named Holofernes. He arranged a large feast in her honor during which he got drunk, and Judith cut off his head.

Potato pancakes are also made on this occasion as a remembrance of the food quickly made for the Maccabees when they were to go on a battle.  Latkes i.e., cheesecake indicative of the cakes served by Judith and sufganiyot i.e., Jelly doughnuts, are also specially prepared.



Although Hanukkah is of less importance among the Jewish festivals, it has become quite popular because it is celebrated near the Christmas days. The exchange of gifts was not a part of this festival formerly. Still, now awards have also become a prominent feature of the occasion, maybe because it is celebrated in the days near Christmas when there are a wave and spirit of gifts exchange. These activities contribute to making more reliable and better connections and relations with the people around us and provide us a chance to express our feelings to our loved ones. 


Menorahs are symbolic of the Hanukkah festival. They are a particular type of candlestands with nine branches to hold nine candles. In Hebrew, they are called ‘Hanukiah.’ The ninth candle is called the ‘shamash,’ i.e., helper, which is used to light the other candles after the sunset. And itself is not counted in the eight-night. 


There are some typical games played on this occasion. The most popular one is the dreidel.

Hanukkah Prayers and Songs

From the blessing song while lighting the menorah to songs about the tradition and history is an essential part of the Hanukkah ceremony. Many Hanukkah songs are traditional prayers, while some have been translated from their Hebrew version to the English version. There is some song specifically for children, and they enjoy singing them with their fellows during the occasion. 

Hanukkah Across the Globe

Hanukkah is celebrated in nearly 21 countries of the world where there is a considerable number of Jewish people, including Algeria, Israel, Canada, Australia, China, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Russia, Turkey, Hungary, Yemen, United Kingdom, and the United States. Many Jews hang a menorah on their front door to reflect their ritual feelings and to get blessings.

Germany has more than 200,000 Jews in the country and is at the top of the list in celebrating the Hanukkah festival.  Its main event includes lighting a giant menorah in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on the first night of Hanukkah.

Hanukkah and Christmas

Hanukkah having some things familiar with Christmas is incorrectly called” Jewish Christmas.” Some similarities are Both festivals are celebrated in the winter months i.e., December. Lights and candles are a common feature of both celebrations, symbolic for joy, love+

– and hope. Families gather up and spend time together. The exchange of gifts is also a common feature of both celebrations. Chocolate coins or gelts are given to children. Giving charity to the deserving is also practiced on both occasions. Traditional foods are also a common feature of both parties.

Spiritual Importance and Learning

The Jews, while celebrating Hanukkah revive the belief that miracles can happen when you struggle to do anything right with all your strength and efforts. Like victory of Maccabees against their Syrian oppressor, which was in higher power and more in number during the battle. God created miracles to tell he is with you. Lights are lit in every home during this festival as a symbol of hope, love, and joy. All loved ones gather in this remembrance that even in the darkest times of life, do not lose hope and struggle for the right. You will surely get its reward by God.

Related Christmas Facts and History Articles:

How To Spell Hanukkah. And What is Hanukkah?

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