Thanksgiving, Hanukkah overlap in unprecedented calendar oddity

Jeffrey Weiss
Dallas Morning News
25 November 2013

The annual December dilemma — Hanukkah vs. Christmas — has become the November befuddlement for many American Jewish families this year: What’s Thanksgiving doing in Hanukkah?

It’s never happened before since Thanksgiving was set as the fourth Thursday in November. If you feast after sundown Thursday, your turkey will be served on the second of Hanukkah’s eight days.

In North Texas as elsewhere, Jewish families and religious leaders are finding ways to celebrate the unprecedented “Hanukkiving” (or “Thanksgivukkah”) mashup.

Latkes — traditional Hanukkah potato pancakes — to replace mashed potatoes? Maybe use a cranberry filling inside fried jelly doughnuts — another traditional Hanukkah food? Or turn a turkey decoration into a Hanukkah menorah?

Most years, many Jewish parents face the dilemma of balancing the cultural juggernaut of Christmas — which their kids see everywhere and want to be part of — against the religious truth that Hanukkah and not Christmas is the Jewish winter holiday. Usually. This year, the unusual autumnal Hanukkah and Thanksgiving have no theological contradiction, so combined celebrations are easy.

If you dig deep enough, the holidays have a few things in common beyond the rare calendar overlap.

The traditional stars of Thanksgiving are the Pilgrims, a Christian group that would now be considered extremely restrictive. (How restrictive? They loathed Christmas celebrations.) The Pilgrims came to America seeking the freedom to worship as they wished. And held a post-harvest celebration of gratitude.

Hanukkah is a minor Jewish holiday that celebrates a military victory. More than 2,300 years ago, the Jews in Israel were split between traditionalists and “Hellenizers,” those interested in assimilating to some degree into the mainstream Greek culture. The Syrian-Greek ruler Antiochus commanded that Jews assimilate, including worship of the Greek Gods.

The Maccabees, whom we would now consider ultra-Orthodox, refused and started a successful guerrilla war. It ended in an eight-day winter celebration of their right to worship as they wished. Some Jewish historians think the eight days was partly an echo of an eight-day fall holiday the warriors missed during the fighting: Sukkot, a post-harvest celebration of gratitude…

…This year matches a very early Hanukkah with the latest possible Thanksgiving. Depending on whose calculations you read, the next times there would be any overlap in the holidays would be in 2070 and in 2165 — and maybe not again for thousands of years.


The complete article is at the Dallas Morning News.



Related: The Thanksgivukkah Medley (Simple Gifts and Hava Narima)

Although tonight is only the second night of Chanuka – six more to go – today is the only day of Thanksgivukkah for the next 78,000 years or so. In other words, post all the Thanksgivukkah stuff today.


CAJ note: Thank you to all our troops around the world for your sacrifices. God bless. Stay safe.

Update: Video from Freedom’s Lighthouse:



And just to remind you again that the left never rests:  The Obama Who Stole Thanksgiving



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