Hanukkah Greetings: How to Wish Someone a Happy Hanukkah

Hanukkah holiday photo

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Hanukkah Sameach means Happy Hanukkah in Hebrew, but there are many other ways to exchange holiday greetings. Not only are there are several ways to wish your loved ones a joyous holiday, but there are traditional and modern ways to reach out at Hanukkah. Hanukkah greetings may be given in Hebrew, Yiddish, or English, and they may reflect the holiday or the season.

Key Takeaways: Hanukkah Greetings

There are several options for wishing friends and family Happy Hanukkah in Hebrew. They include:

  • Hanukkah Sameach: Happy Hanukkah
  • Chag Sameach: Happy holiday
  • Chag Urim Sameach: Happy holiday of the lights
  • Chag Hanukkah Sameach: Happy Hanukkah holiday

About Hanukkah Greetings

Hanukkah is also known as the Festival of Lights. It's a joyous holiday during which families come together to celebrate a miracle and its blessings for the Jewish people. It has also become a time for feasting, games, songs, and blessings. At the same time, Hanukkah—once a minor festival—has become a more significant event because it is a celebration that coincides closely with the more commonly celebrated Christmas holiday. Because it is so closely associated with Christmas, it has become increasingly common to send Hanukkah cards or messages around the winter solstice.

Hanukkah Greetings in Hebrew

There are several forms of Hanukkah greetings in Hebrew. None is necessarily better than the other, though some are more commonly used.

Hanukkah Sameach

חַג חֲנוּכָּה שַׂמֵחַ or Hanukkah Sameach literally means "Happy Hanukkah" in Hebrew. It's always an appropriate greeting for the holiday.

Chag Sameach

חַג שָׂמֵחַ is a Hebrew expression. Often transliterated as chag sameach, is pronounced χaɡ saˈme.aχ with a guttural "ch" sound at the beginning. Chag sameach literally means "happy holiday," as a chag is a holiday. Thus, it is appropriate to add the word Hanukkah to make the greeting specific: "Chag Hanukkah sameach!"

Chag Urim Sameach

צ'ג אורים סמח, or chag urim sameach, means "Happy Festival of Lights." It's a lovely greeting for the holiday and expresses the spirit of the season. Because it is a less common greeting, it might be reserved for the actual celebration of Hanukkah itself, which begins with the blessing and lighting the candles of the menorah.

Hanukkah Greetings in Yiddish

While relatively few Americans actually speak to one another in Hebrew, many use Yiddish expressions on a regular basis. Yiddish is a language that originated among Jews in central and eastern Europe; it includes elements of German and Hebrew.

While it's always correct to express holiday greetings in Hebrew, it's actually more informal and friendly to express them in Yiddish: Ah Freilichen Hanukkah! A more general "happy holiday" option is gut yuntuv; alternatively, gut yom tov means "greetings," or "good day." If you happen to be exchanging greetings on the Sabbath (Saturday), you might also say Gut Shabbos.

Hanukkah Cards and Messages

While Hanukkah cards and messages are not part of the ancient Hanukkah tradition, they have become a popular part of American culture. It's easy to find Hanukkah greeting cards at any stationery store, and many people make their own Hanukkah greetings.

While such greetings are welcome, it's important to remember that Hanukkah is a very different holiday from Christmas. Hanukkah does involve the lighting of candles, and it does fall near the winter solstice—but it is neither a major holiday nor a celebration of the coming of the new year (the Jewish new year occurs in the early fall). Hanukkah greeting cards, therefore, may celebrate:

  • The joy of bringing family together
  • The celebration of a miracle
  • Candles and blessings
  • Games, songs, and food

In addition, of course, many Americans now use the expression "happy holidays" or "seasons greetings" as an inclusive way to say "enjoy this time of year."