Hanukkah is the Jewish festival of lights: Eight days of lighting the hanukkiyah, singing, and dodging hot oil splatters at latke parties. Since the name of the holiday is a transliteration of the Hebrew חנוכה, it’s nearly impossible to misspell, which I think is very chic.
In honor of the holiday and for your reading pleasure, I’ve found eight different ways to spell Hanuka and imagined, if each of them came to life, who they’d be at your favorite LGBTQ bar. Comment below if I missed your favorite spelling, or if you think “Chanuqa” would be a manic pixie dream girl instead of the repressed top I dreamed them to be.
Hanukkah is the most common transliteration out there. At your local dyke bar, Hanukkah is the social butterfly. She flits around to every cluster of queers in the room, chatting in an intensely friendly way that makes you think she was flirting until you realize she’s just that excited to see everyone. She’s friends with all of her exes and every single one is on her close friends Instagram story, which, like, wow, all of them? That’s bold.
Pronounced with a raspy ch, Chanukah is different and wants you to know it. Last month, you heard them order a negroni sbagliato and they didn’t say “with prosecco in it.” They definitely ordered it because of the meme. Just say the line!
You’ll find Khanike (a spelling that reflects the Yiddish pronunciation of the holiday) quietly kicking ass at the pool table most nights, and your roommate is pretty sure fae was the whistleblower in that city hall scandal last year. Khanike’s easy to talk to and listens with a focused intensity that makes you spill your guts about your avoidant attachment style like you’re in your therapist’s office.
Channukkah is doing the most, always. She edits the monthly socialist zine, plays accordion at open mics, and invites you to her parents’ ski lodge in Vail five minutes after you meet. Hey, do you want to join her book club? They’re reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.
Xanuka and Chanuqa
You’ve actually never seen these two before. They came up from the suburbs tonight because Xanuka is on her third devastating breakup of the year with the person she tearily tells you is her soulmate and “such an asshole.” Chanuqa is drinking a tonic water with lime and refilling Xanuka’s cup with water whenever he can. Chanuqa is doing some powerful emotional topping in a way that says he’s probably been helping people with their problems to avoid addressing their own for a while. Regardless, he’s cast a spell on every thirsty bottom in the bar. They won’t abandon Xanuka and go home with someone, but maybe he’ll come back another night…?
It’s a weeknight and Hanuka is up past her bedtime (9 p.m.) to celebrate a friend’s birthday. She’s been up since dawn juicing vegetables to fulfill orders for her vegan energy and immune booster juices. Lately Hanuka has been dreaming about quitting her day job (paralegal at an employment law firm) to juice full-time. She has samples in her purse, so you take a shot of energy elixir together and the carrot-ginger-cayenne combo briefly whites out your vision.
Chanuca is here because someone told them that the booking agent for the Important Music Venue next door is a regular. They’ve got a fanny pack strapped across their chest and stickers with a QR code to their Bandcamp, just in case it comes up in conversation — and they make sure it does. Chanuca is a drummer, their partner is on tenor saxophone, and their other partner plays a theremin and sings. You want desperately to ask if the relationship predates the band or vice versa but never do.