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11 Festive Lyrics From Hanukkah Songs

Music is an integral part of the winter holiday season. From carols about silver bells ringing to crooning ballads about chestnuts roasting o’er an open fire, holiday music often sets the scene for these special occasions. It also offers a historical background for these celebrations, whether religious or cultural.

Yet despite its ubiquity, festive music often centers around Christmas, leaving others — including the estimated 15.2 million Jewish people worldwide who celebrate Hanukkah each December — with a far more scant musical catalog.

Of course, there are still some Hanukkah-themed tunes that have withstood the test of time. The ode to the dreidel — appropriately titled “Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel” — comes to mind, as does Adam Sandler’s now-iconic “The Chanukah Song,” which he debuted in a 1994 episode of Saturday Night Live.

But aside from these classics and a few parody songs, it can be difficult to find Hanukkah-themed tunes that embody the emotions, traditions, and history behind the Festival of Lights — difficult, but not impossible. Here, we’ve rounded up 11 of the best retro and contemporary Hanukkah lyrics to kick-start the Jewish holiday. Chag urim sameach!

Put on your yarmulke / Here comes Chanukah / So much fun-ukah / To celebrate Chanukah / Chanukah is the Festival of Lights / Instead of one day of presents, we have eight crazy nights.
“The Chanukah Song,” Adam Sandler, 1994

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First you take a single candle / And you start it with a spark / Then you pass it all around the world / Bring light unto the dark / Tonight, we light the Hanukkah candles / From left to right.
“Pass the Candle,” Michelle Citrin, 2008

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It’s Honeyky Hanukkah, shaky my hand / My candles are burning all over this land / To light the dark road for the man passing by / It’s Honeyky Hanukkah time.
“Honeyky Hanukkah,” Woody Guthrie, 1949

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Eight nights will be alright / We’ll share our dreams of joy and wonder. / Eight nights — it feels so right, / I see the miracle inside of you.
“Eight Nights,” Naomi Less, 2011

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I got you a harmonica / And a bag of chocolate coins. / The only thing we have is fights / But there’s got to be a change tonight / Please be nice on this Feast of Lights.
“Feast of Lights,” They Might Be Giants, 2001

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The oil in the pan, it’s starting to fry / And the smell from the kitchen starts drifting on by and tickles your nose / And if you just sit tight / You’ll be seeing those lights in the window.
“Lights in the Window,” Jacob Spike Kraus, 2019

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I wanna see him with a candle for a nose / Yarmulke on his head standing in the snow. / How come the snowman’s never dressed for Hanukkah? / How come he’s never wearing a yarmulke? / I wanna know, why’s that so?
“Hanukkah Snowman,” Phranc, 2006

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Light one candle for all we believe in / Let anger not tear us apart / And light one candle to bind us together / With peace as the song in our heart.
“Light One Candle,” Peter, Paul and Mary, 1986

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Eight candles / On a plain afternoon / On a cold windowsill looking out at December, where they’re waiting / Waiting for the sun to give up / Till the passions of red are below the horizon all at once.
“Eight Candles,” Yo La Tengo, 2019

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How lucky are we that we / Have lights so that we can see / Although the day is done / What a miracle that a spark / Lifts these candles out of the dark / Every evening, one by one / Until the end of Hanukkah.
“Hanukkah Blessings,” Barenaked Ladies, 2004

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Family’s around the table / Grandma’s still in the kitchen / Sweet red wine and dreidels / Telling stories about how light gave us hope when we thought it ran out / Brightened the dark, now it glows all around.
“Eight Nights,” Rosi Golan, 2021

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Featured image credit: Sinti Lu/ Shutterstock

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About the Author
Melanie Davis-McAfee
M. Davis-McAfee is a freelance writer, musician, and devoted cat mom of three living in southwest Kentucky.
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