What is Hanukkah? Why the different spellings?

Hanukkah is a Jewish religious festival that begins in late November or early December.
It lasts eight days, starting from the 25th day of Kislev – the ninth month on the Hebrew ecclesiastical calendar. In 2016 it begins on the evening of December 24th.

The word Hanukkah in Hebrew is often translated as 'a dedication' or as the festival of lights.  It celebrates the defence of the Temple of Jerusalem by the Macabees over the much larger Selucid (Greek) army. 

What does the menorah represent?

The key symbolic element of the festival is daily lighting of the nine candles on a special candle holder called the hanukkah menorah. One of these candles is separate from the other eight, usually kept higher. 

The menora commemorates a miracle recorded in the Talmud. This was when one day's oil was made to burn for eight days by the Temple's defenders.

Is it Hanukkah or Chanukhah?

It can be either. There is also flexibility about whether there should be a single or double k. The confusion emerges from the attempt to recreate the 'chet' sound in Hebrew

More on Hanukkah here

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