American Names · Religious Names

Hanukkah Baby Name Inspiration

Happy Hanukkah! Although it’s technically a minor holiday within Judaism, Hanukkah is a major one for many American Jewish families. Much to the chagrin of some, that’s because it’s close to another early winter giving holiday which has led to some level of commercialization. For others, it’s a fun time for presents, competitive dreidel games, and great food. Even my partner, who grew up in a secular household, counted Hanukkah among his few observances until very recently (though he considered it akin to Labor Day). As a couple, with one’s growing observance and the other’s (my) conversion process, there’s something truly exciting about our first Hanukkah together. I’m not sure whether the gifts or the menorahs are accumulating faster, and we’re getting ready to host a shindig with close friends and family. Life is good.

Speaking of my conversion process, I get so excited to see Jewish representation (have you seen the Mitzvah Moose?). One thing I haven’t really seen is a list of baby names inspired by Hanukkah. There are plenty revolving around the December 25th holiday (and there’s nothing wrong with that!). While I do see some Jewish names on Holiday name lists, I can’t remember the last time I saw a baby name list that was just for Hanukkah. Well, here it goes!


Silver and Blue are commonly associated with Hanukkah (especially wrapping paper), and they also happen to be baby names! Both are unisex, and Blue so much so that it’s even gender-neutral. You can also consider other color shade names like Grey and Steel, or Azure and Navy as subtler nods.


Gift and Cadeau (French for “gift”) are some of the most talked-about present names this year on social media, though Gift sounds religiously Christian and may raise eyebrows at shul…plus Gift is the German word for “poison.” Safer bets include names that mean “gift” wholly or partly, like Doron, Dorothy, Matthew, Mateo, Theodore, and Theodora.


Some of the names associated with Hanukkah’s history are Mattathias (think Matthias), Judah, Simon / Simeon, and Eleazar. Maccabee was actually given to 10 baby boys in 2021, though I’m not sure how many (if any) are Jewish since the Hanukkah story is also found in Catholic bibles as part of the Deuterocanonical texts or Apocrypha.


It is the Festival of Light after all! You can take Lior, Liora, Orli, Zahara, and Zohar straight from Hebrew to get a name incorporating “light” into its meaning, or you can choose from any number of names meaning light like Lux, Luz, and Lucy. Some parents do even name their children “Light.”


Candle-lighting is a must. There’s a Ladino (Sephardic) song called “Ocho Kandelikas” that would make great inspiration for a baby girl’s name, should you like the sound of Kandelika (“little candle”). Some other name possibilities for “fire” include Fuego, Fiammetta, Ignatius, and Aidan.


Eight nights of Hanukkah means that a name meaning “eight” could work nicely. Octavia is currently popular, and for a boy you could choose Octavius or Octavian. Music-lovers can crosslist their baby names by choosing Octave, a French form. Alternatively, you could name a baby based off of which night of the holiday they were born on, allowing options like Una, Dua, Tertius, Arba, Quintin, Quinta, Septima, and Seven.


Nobody talks about the eight days of Hanukkah for a reason! To reference night, choose from direct translations like Lila / Laila, Nyx, and Nox. Alternatively, reference astronomy phenomena via names like Luna (moon), Estelle (star), Lyra (constellation), and Galaxy.


A few other names come to mind! Hannah and Chana make subtle nods to the word Hannukah, and Lottie evokes latkes. Sofia / Sophia might be named after sufganiyot (jelly donuts). A baby named Olive, Olivia, or Oliver might reference the miracle of the oil. And at the end of the night, Miracle is also a popular baby name!

What do you think? Are there any names you would add to this list of Hanukkah baby names? Let me know, and Happy Hanukkah / Hanukkah Sameach!

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