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Ask A Jew: Chanukah Greetings for Non-Jews

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Ask A Jew: Chanukah Greetings for Non-Jews

What questions do you have about Judaism? Submit them online, or fill out the form below. 

By Hyphen Parent

Is it appropriate for a non-Jewish person to wish a Jewish person, or the Jewish community Chag Urim Sameach, or should we stick with Happy Chanukah?

It’s not inappropriate, but it’s not necessary and not commonly used. 
“Happy Chanukah,” is a fine greeting and one commonly used among Jewish communities. The Hebrew can be tricky to pronounce and is very easily butchered. “Chag urim sameach,” isn’t really a common greeting among many Jewish communities. “Chag sameach” loosely translates to “Happy holiday” and can be used for a number of different holidays (although not all, so it’s best to be careful.). Chanukah is only a minor holiday and isn’t technically a chag, but many do say “Chag sameach” or “Chanukah sameach.” 

“Chag urim sameach” translates to the equivlaent of “Happy festival of lights.” Typically, only non-Jews refer to Chanukah as “The festival of lights.” This holds true for English and Hebrew. We just call it “Chanukah.” Generally, the only time you’ll hear a Jewish person refer to the holiday as “The festival of lights” is when trying to explain Chanukah to non-Jews (or when singing along with an Adam Sandler song meant to teach non-Jews about Chanukah). In all honestly, I’ve lived all across the country and I’ve never known a Jewish person in the U.S or Canada to use, “Chag urim sameach,” as a Chanukah greeting. 

“Happy Chanukah,” is an accurate greeting and much easier to pronounce. 

About Hyphen Parent

Dorothy-Ann Parent (better known as Hyphen) is a writer, a traditional Jew, a seeker of justice, a lover of stories, the self-proclaimed Jewish Molly Weasley, hobbit-sized, and best not left unattended in a bookshop or animal shelter.

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