Chanukah and Hanukkah are two spellings of the same Hebrew word, which is Chanukah, or חנוכה – which means “dedication” in Hebrew. But what is the difference between Chanukah and Hanukkah? In this article, we will explore the meaning and significance of Chanukah and its differences from Hanukkah.
The holiday is filled with many traditions, from the traditional meal of fried foods – such as latkes (potato pancakes) – to the lighting of the menorah and playing of the dreidel game. Gifts are often exchanged (though this is not a requirement), typically on the seventh night of Hanukkah.
The term “Hanukkah” is a Hebrew word which is derived from the word “chanu” – meaning “they established”. Thus, the term Hanukkah literally means “they established” – the Maccabees establishing a new Jewish kingdom, free from Greek rule.
The main difference between Chanukah and Hanukkah is in the oral pronunciation of the Hebrew letters that make up the word. In Modern Hebrew, Chanukah is pronounced with an “Ah” at the end, (as in, “Chan-ah-kah”), while in Ashkenazi Hebrew (the type of Hebrew commonly spoken by European Jews) it is pronounced with an “eh” (as in, “Chan-ook-eh”). For this reason, the two words are often simply referred to colloquially as “the Chanukah/Hanukkah holiday”, or simply as “Hanukkah”. It is also worth noting that in English, both spellings are acceptable and widely accepted.
In conclusion, Chanukah and Hanukkah are the same Hebrew word, and they both refer to the same holiday. The only difference is in the pronunciation – either Ah or Eh – which is a difference between Modern Hebrew and Ashkenazi Hebrew.
As Judaism is an ancient faith, with many different traditions and cultural expressions, understanding the small nuances between the various holidays and celebrations often requires further study. However, Chanukah and Hanukkah are effectively one and the same – the difference between them is simply one of pronunciation, making for a beautiful conversation starter and source of learning about the many wonderful aspects of Jewish culture.
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Last update 2023-11-27. Price and product availability may change.