Chanukah oh Chanukah come light the Menorah…

Why is this the song associated with Chanukah in the US? And how come it wasn’t translated more accurately?

The original song goes like this (excuse the size of the Yiddish font, but WordPress doesn’t allow me to edit text size in Yiddish!):

חנוכה אוי חנוכה
אַ יום-טוב אַ שיינער
אַ לוסטיקער אַ פריילעכער
נישט דאָ נאָך אַזוינער
אַלע נאַכט מיט דריידלעך שפילן מיר,
פרישע הייסע לאַטקעס, עסן אָן אַ שיעור

געשווינדער, צינדט קינדער
די חנוכה ליכטלעך אָן,
זאָגט על-הניסים, לויבט גאָט פאַר די נסים,
און לאמיר אלע טאנצען אין קאָן.
זאָגט על-הניסים, לויבט גאָט פאַר די נסים,
און לאָמיר אַלע טאַנצען אין קאָן

Chanukah oy Chanukah
A yontif a sheyner,
A lustiker a freylekher
Nisht do nokh azoyner
Ale nakht mit dreydlech shpiln mir,
Frishe heyse latkes, esn on a shir.

Geshvinder, tsindt kinder
Di Chanukah likhtlech on,
Zogt “Al Hanisim”, loybt Got far di nisim,
Un lomir ale tantsen in kon.
Zogt “Al Hanisim”, loybt Got far di nisim,
Un lomir ale tantsen in kon.

In English, this means:

Chanukah, Oh Chanukah
A beautiful celebration.
Such a cheerful and happy one,
There is none like it.
Every night with the dreidels we will play,
Fresh, hot latkes we will eat endlessly.

Come quickly children
Light the Chanukah candles
Say “Al Hanissim”, praise God for the miracles,
And we will all dance together in a circle!
Say “Al Hanissim”, praise God for the miracles,
And we will all dance together in a circle!

Sound familiar? Nope, didn’t to me either. Why is that? They took God out of the song! In the translation He’s not mentioned at all. “Days long ago” may as well refer to pre-cellphone era as far as our kids are concerned.

The song most of us know goes like this:

Chanukah, Oh Chanukah
Come light the menorah
Let’s have a party
We’ll all dance the horah
Gather ’round the table, we’ll give you a treat
Dreidels to play with, and latkes to eat

And while we are playing
The candles are burning bright
One for each night, they shed a sweet light
To remind us of days long ago
One for each night, they shed a sweet light
To remind us of days long ago.

Oh well, I guess in today’s world of Chrismukah, or the Christmasification of Chanukah, anything goes. Oh, and for the record, we don’t light menorahs on Chanukah. We light the Chanukiah, which has 9 candlesticks.

Last year the Maccabeats had a great song to Taio Cruz’s Dynomite. This year, Aish has put together a great Chanukah medly. Enjoy!

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Orim Sameach! (Or Happy Hannukah….)

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