Your 2022 Channukah Primer

Real Estate Agent with Jameson Sotheby's International Realty

Many of y'all are confused, when it comes to Channukah, and you don't know what to say, nor how to react to your Jewish friends and colleagues.  So, as a public service, I'm offering some of these potential questions/responses for goyim (here's your first lesson... "goyim" is a word we Jews use to refer to, literally, anyone else other than Jews.  It's Yiddish for "nations"... and it really means "all of the rest of you"!)

  • When does Channukah begin?
    Well, this year, Channukah began December 18 and ends on the 26th. And as with all Jewish holidays, it begins at sundown.  That's so we don't have to refer to our fancy watches, world-wide, to determine when the holiday begins.  All over the world, it begins when the sun sets.

  • Why doesn't Channukah start on the same day every year?
    Great question.  Jewish holidays are not based on the Roman calendar (don't get me started on how Jews feel about the Romans), they follow the lunar calendar.  Since the lunar calendar doesn't line-up, the date jumps around year-to-year.  Some years, Channukah is close to Christmas, and every now and then Channukah can be super early, or super late. 

  • How do you spell this holiday?  I see it spelled differently all over the place?
    Yeah... so Channukah is actually spelled in Hebrew.  And there is no truly accepted transliteration of the word into English.  Everyone has their own version.  Hanukah, Hannukah, Hannaka, Channuka, Channukah, Chanuka... they're all good.

    Do y'all go to Church for Channukah?
    Well, this here is a complicated one.  We don't go to Church at all.  Jews attend Temple, or Synagogue.  And even though, here in the US, Channukah is kind of a big deal, and has been blown up to try to compete with Christmas (and seriously fails)... Channukah is really a very minor holiday commemorating winning a military battle over enormous odds against a Greco-Roman army (y'a see, those Romans again). So we don't typically go to Temple for Channukah.

  • Where do y'all go to get your Channukah Bush?
    Yeah, we don't.  There just ain't no sech thing as a Channukah Bush.  Any Jewish family that tells you otherwise, is just trying to "fit in". Yes, I know that you all know a Jewish family that has a Channukah bush, or an outright Christmas tree, but the official stance is that it's a big no-no.

  • Does Channukah Chaim, or Hannuka Harry come down your chimneys?
    Oddly enough I do know a couple of families who do the CC or HH thing.  I find it kinda cute, but it's not a widely accepted practice.  But either way, there ain't no way any self-respecting Chaim/Harry would be sliding down a chimney.  Oy!  They'd get all dirty, and schmutzy... let's use the front door, right?

  • Do you get offended if we say "Merry Christmas" to you?
    No.  We're delighted to be wished Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwaanza, Feliz Navidad or whatever pleasantry you'd like to use.  We may respond with a Happy Holidays, or Happy Channukah right back atcha.  Personally, I use Happy ChannaChristmaKwaanzaKah.

  • What do you call that candelabra you light?
    Technically, the one used for Channukah is called a Channukiah (Cha-noo-keee-yah!).  But most Jews just call it by it's generic name which is a Menorah.  A Channukiah is very specific.  It has places for nine candles.  A generic Menorah usually has an even number.

  • Do you eat Chinese food for Channukah?
    No.  Traditionally Channukah includes fried foods... (suddenly sounds more appealing, doesn't it?).  So in Israel, they often eat fried doughnuts (soof-gan-i-ot), but here in the states we tend to eat Latkes... fried potato pancakes. 

  • Why am I thinking y'all eat Chinese food around the holidays?
    You're probably thinking about Christmas.  Since we Jews don't celebrate Christmas (that's right...we don't.) On Christmas day we find ourselves with nothing to do.  Most stores are closed, and the only things we can find to do are see a movie, and go to a Chinese restaurant.

There... so I hope that helps.  Chappy Channukah, y'all!

Posted by

 ALAN MAY, Realtor®   
Specializing in Evanston Real Estate and North Shore Real Estate

Jameson Sotheby's International Realty, 2934 Central Street, Evanston, IL 60201
Office: 847.869.7300      Cell: 847.924.3313      Email:

Evanston Real Estate & North Shore Real Estate
Licensed in Illinois


Comments (4)

Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Great explanation of Hanukkah, Alan. I knew this, myself, as I was raised in New York City and have had many Jewish friends throughout my life and also a Jewish stepmother. But I think this will be quite eye-opening for many here in the Rain. Happy Hanukkah!

Dec 24, 2022 09:21 AM
Alan May

I get those surprised looks all the time.

Dec 24, 2022 03:10 PM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Wow! Thank you for your post Alan! I learned something today and so appreciate your public service of explaining so much. Happy Hanukkah!

Dec 24, 2022 11:40 AM
Alan May

Happy to help.

Dec 24, 2022 03:11 PM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker/REALTOR® - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

Love it! A nice overview of Channukah/Hannukah/etc! Enjoy the end of the holidays!

Dec 25, 2022 07:02 AM
Alan May

Why, thank you, Ms. Kat

Dec 25, 2022 07:07 AM
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Alan May - thank you, very much for the Channukah Primer! It was very educational and appreciated. After reading your blog post, I was reminded of a few things I learned and forgot from growing up in a neighborhood consisting primarily of Chicago business owners. What I remember the most is buying food from the Jewish Deli. 

Thank you! 

Dec 28, 2022 11:04 AM
Alan May

There ain't nuthin' like a good Jewish Deli.

Dec 28, 2022 02:05 PM