Thanksgivukkah might sounds like some funny word, but it is the convergence of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah that will take place this year! The first full day of Hanukkah begins the same day as Thanksgiving, a rare event that last happened in 1888 and apparently won’t happen again for another 79,000 years! So, this is definitely the year to enjoy two major holidays, one primarily American, and the other primarily Jewish, all in one festive day! There are so many ways in which this holiday can be made special. For one, Hanukkah and Thanksgiving are similar because both holidays are a reference to giving thanks. Hanukkah is giving thanks to God for the reclaiming of the temple and for the miraculous oil that burned for eight days, which is a miracle in itself, especially when there was only enough oil to last for one day! Thanksgiving is the day in which the Pilgrims hosted a feast with the Native Americans in which they gave thanks for the new land, religious freedoms, and opportunities they were making for themselves. In a similar way that the Jews had been oppressed until the Maccabean revolt and the reclaiming of the temple, so the Pilgrims had left the oppressed country of England in hopes for religious freedom. This year we get to mold the two traditions, holidays, and ideologies together into one cornucopia of latkes, turkey, pumpkin, oils, donuts, thankfulness and remembrance of God’s grace and blessings that He has bestowed upon us, His people.
So how do those who normally celebrate Thanksgiving and Hanukkah deal with such a random holiday? Lots of turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie, football and midday naps…and then the festive Hanukkah traditions of frying latkes and donuts, spinning dreidels, eating chocolate coins and lighting the menorah… Seems like a lot of activities for one day! Thankfully (no pun intended), Hanukkah is celebrated for 8 days, the first official day of Hanukkah starts from sundown Wednesday evening and lasts until sundown Thursday evening, so even though it is tied in with Thanksgiving during the first day, Hanukkah will be celebrated more during Wednesday night, where the majority of activities will take place, leaving Thursday (Thanksgiving Day) with some room to gather around the table and enjoy the turkey and cranberry sauce while each person gives a testimony of what they were thankful for this past year.
I can only imagine that many American Jewish families will add an interesting twist to this once in a lifetime opportunity, perhaps adding an interesting concoction of pumpkin to the original potato latkes, or making sweet potato donuts! And since deep frying turkeys is all the rage for Thanksgiving, it totally makes sense that some would deep fry their Thanksgiving birdies in oil! I can also imagine dilemmas for decorating this year! No matter how families around the United States (and abroad) decide to celebrate this holiday of Thanksgivukkah, one thing will remain the same, which is the celebration of giving Thanks to God, that we can celebrate two holidays that commemorate God’s grace and the freedom we have to worship God. And for that we are indeed grateful!
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