Hanukkah, a Jewish holiday, is also known as the Festival of Lights, and it is one of the most important Jewish holidays. It commemorates a miraculous victory of the Jews over the Syrians, as well as the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. So why is Hanukkah spelled differently, depending on which language its being written in?
The Hebrew word for Hanukkah is חֲנֻכָּה (Ḥănukkāh), which is pronounced differently in different countries, according to the native accent and pronunciation. That’s why you can find the spellings “Chanukah”, “Hannukah”, and “Hanukah” in different Hebrew dialects. In Hebrew, the “ch” sound and the “h” sound are very similar, and in some contexts they can even be used interchangebly.
In English, the most commonly-used spelling is “Hanukkah”, and this spelling is common in most EU countries. However, in America the “Chanukah” variation is more popular, and this is due to the fact that the English language in America was heavily influenced by the Yiddish language, which uses “Ch” for all words beginning with “H”. Alternatively, the spellings “Hanukah” and “Hannukah” can also be used, depending on personal preference.
Variations in Other Languages
Hanukkah is also written differently when translated to other languages. In many languages, the “Ch” and “H” distinction is not made, so the spelling is simplified to one sound. Here are some examples:
- German: “Chanuka”
- Swedish: “Hanukka”
- Russian: “Ханука”
In other languages, the spelling of Hanukkah varies even more significantly. For example, the Italian “Chanukka” makes use of a “ck” letter combination to represent the “ch” sound, and in Turkish the letter “c” is used to make the same sound.
No matter which spelling of Hanukkah you choose to use, the meaning behind it remains the same – to celebrate a miraculous victory of the Jews over the Syrians, and the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Whichever way you choose to spell it, all spellings are equally important to Jewish culture.
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Last update 2023-11-22. Price and product availability may change.