How To Say “Happy Hanukkah”: Appropriate Greetings & Wishes

By , Staff Writer
pronunciation and meaning of "Hanukkah sameach" from the article
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Shalom, y’all! It’s time to dust off the dreidel and heat up the latke oil! While it commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, Hanukkah brings eight nights of good vibes and warmth with your family and loved ones. Even if you’re a gentile, knowing some easy Hanukkah greetings can help you spread the love to your Jewish friends, family, and coworkers, ensuring that you’re not the clueless schlemiel during the holiday.

Hanukkah vs. Chanukah: Which Is Correct?

If you’re confused about how to spell the name of the holiday properly, don’t be. Both Hanukkah and Chanukah are interchangeable and perfectly correct forms for the holiday. Both are acceptable English spellings for the Hebrew word חֲנוּכָּה.

If you want to split hairs, Chanukah is considered the more “traditional” spelling of the two as it’s reportedly been around longer. In literature, Chanukah appears in the early 1840s, while Hanukkah doesn’t appear until a couple decades later. That also means you’re more likely to see Chanukah used in synagogues. However, Hanukkah is the more common spelling today.

If you’re not sure what to go with, stick with Hanukkah. And if you’re still confused, don’t worry. There are apparently about 14 other forms of the word that are also technically correct.

How To Pronounce “Hanukkah” and “Chanukah”

Both Hanukkah and Chanukah are pronounced the same way (“HAH-nuh-kuh”). That’s probably why the Chanukah spelling fell out of favor — the name of the holiday doesn’t actually use the traditional English /ch/ sound.

You may hear a more traditional pronunciation where that “H” sound starts closer to the back of the throat, creating something that might sound like “KHA-nuh-kuh.” But it’s okay if you can’t make that sound yourself.

How To Say “Happy Hanukkah” in Hebrew

The general greeting for Hanukkah in Hebrew is חֲנוּכָּה שַׂמֵחַ. Written in English, that’s Hanukkah sameach or sameyakh, pronounced “HAH-nuh-kuh sah-MEH-ahkh.” That simply translates to “Happy Hanukkah,” so it’s an easy greeting to bust out for your Jewish friends.

Alternate “Happy Hanukkah” Greetings and Wishes

Along with or aside from Hanukkah sameach, you have some alternate greetings at your disposal that you can cycle through as your wrist deep in latkes and matzo ball soup.

Chag Sameach

Chag sameach (pronounced “haug sah-MEH-ahk”) is another Hebrew greeting. You already know sameach, but chag sameach simply translates to “happy holidays” or “happy festival.” That also makes it a highly versatile greeting that you can say for other Jewish holidays, like Passover, Shavuot, or Yom Kippur.

Chag Hanukkah Sameach

Putting together all the Hebrew greetings we’ve learned so far, you get the new greeting of chag Hanukkah sameach (pronounced “haug HAH-nuh-kuh sah-MEH-ahkh”). This roughly translates to “happy Hanukkah holiday or festival.”

Chag Urim Sameach

Hanukkah is also known as the Festival of Lights. Urim (pronounced “oo-reem”) is Hebrew for "lights," so chag urim sameach equates to wishing someone a “happy Festival of Lights.”

Happy Hanukkah

Honestly, if you forget any of the above options, there’s nothing wrong with a simple happy Hanukkah. It’s direct, it’s adaptable, and it’s an easy way to show that you care.

Phrases for Hanukkah Cards and Messages

If you want to go beyond using a basic “Happy Hanukkah” greeting and include a longer message in a card, email, social media post, letter, or other medium, you have a wide range of options ahead of you. Don’t be afraid to get a little creative.

  • Blessings to you for a joyous festival of lights.
  • Hanukkah greetings for peace, love, and happiness.
  • I wish for you to enjoy prosperity, love, and laughter.
  • Invite the lights of Hanukkah to lead the way in your life.
  • Let the light shine every day of your life.
  • Let us remain steadfast in the wonder of God.
  • Let your faith in the Lord be a beacon of light in your life.
  • May the candles be your beacon of light on the path to joy.
  • May the glow of the menorah provide light and love.
  • May the light of the menorah shine in your life every day.
  • May the love of the Lord fill your home and heart with life.
  • May the miracle of light bring peace and happiness to your life.
  • May you be surrounded by family, friends, love, and abundance.
  • May you experience abundance and love this holiday season.
  • May your life be filled with light and joy.
  • May we never forget the miracle of Hanukkah.
  • Rejoice in the light and love of Hanukkah.
  • Sending blessings of Hanukkah for health, happiness, peace and prosperity.
  • Take joy in the Festival of Lights; spread joy and love to all you meet.
  • Warm wishes for the spirit of Hanukkah to fill your home and heart.
  • Wishing you a joyous eight-day festival!
  • Wishing you the rewards of perseverance.
  • Wishing your family a season of love, light, and happiness.