The New York Times quoted a study that discovered that “Thanksgivukkah,” the phenomenon of the first night of Hanukkah coinciding with the Thanksgiving holiday, will not happen for another 77,798 years.
So we better make it something to remember.
The biggest challenge people are facing this time around is how to give each holiday its proper recognition. We are all familiar with the festivities involved in celebrating Thanksgiving. We drag the estranged family together for a plentiful feast of turkey and cranberry sauce, take turns expressing gratitude, and reflect on all that we are blessed with. On Hannukkah, the Festival of Lights, we light a Menorah for eight nights, feast on latkes, play dreidel, and exchange presents.
Maybe you didn’t see it, but there is an eerie connection between the two.
The message of Chanukah and Thanksgiving is extremely similar- we celebrate the holidays for essentially the same reason-as tributes to our history.
On Hanukkah we pay tribute to the Jewish warriors, the Maccabees, who miraculously defeated the oppressive Greeks. On Thanksgiving, we mirror the pilgrim’s feast of tribute with the Indians for teaching them to work the land. The common theme between the holidays is giving thanks and recognizing those who have helped us get to where we are today.
Each holiday comes with it’s own unique rituals; the best way to celebrate both calls for some creative tradition mash-ups.
My favorite tradition of Chanukah is, and forever will be, giving presents. Perhaps this year our gifts can take a Thanksgiving spin and we can exchange moccasins, Indian-print clothing, and beaded necklaces. And if we really push, maybe we can even bring back hair feathers.
The next step is to switch up the traditional Thanksgiving feast- serve latkes and applesauce as sides to turkey. Or even attempt to make sweet potato latkes. If you’re really feeling creative, prepare a Greek salad. Another creative side may include Star of David shaped pieces of pumpkin pie. And you can’t forget jelly donuts for dessert!
Photo by Katie Hammond from Leite’s Culinaria
Make sure to include conversation about the Hanukkah miracle at the feast, after everyone says what he or she is thankful for of course.
Thanksgivukkah also means endless possibilities in arts n’ crafts! Turkey-shaped menorahs, dreidels as centerpieces for the Thanksgiving feast table, Chanukah-themed place cards for the feast, pilgrim-hat shaped window decorations to frame the menorah sitting on the window pane, and feather head pieces decorated with the star of David are just a few examples I can think up.
And lastly, we can pull it all together with a family viewing of the crowd favorites, “A Rugrat’s Hannukkah” followed by “Pocahontas.”
The miracle of Thanksgivukkah will come once in our lifetime, even our children and grandchildren will not see the holidays cross as long as they live.
It is up to us to make Thanksgivukkah a legend that will be talked about many years from now. They will talk about the latkes at the Thanksgiving feast, and the moccasins that grandma received on the first night of Hanukkah. They may even visit the dusty turkey-shaped menorah resting in the attic.
This year, we will be experiencing an event that will go down in the history books. We must recognize the importance of Thanksgivukkah and the responsibility on our shoulders to make this holiday something that will never be forgotten.
Good luck soldiers, and Happy Thanksgivukkah!