Many Americans have been focusing on Thanksgiving held this Thursday but not everyone was perhaps aware that the Jewish Hanukkah fell on the same day this year.
First time in over a hundred years
This is the first time in 125 years that Thanksgiving and Hanukkah celebrations coincided on the same day. The last time the two occasions overlapped was in 1888 and it will not happen again until 2070 and 2165. For many American Jews, Thursday’s event presented two reasons to celebrate: to give thanks for family togetherness and to mark the significance of religious freedom.
Rabbi Mendell Lifshitz, Director of the Chabad Jewish Center said for America to have a full entire Hanukkah and Thanksgiving crossing each other, another 70,000 years will have to pass. Since this is a very rare incident, many American Jews have taken this opportunity to memorialize the day. “So for American Jews, we really feel the message of thanksgiving, it really resonates and especially at Hanukkah, because Hanukkah as well celebrates this victory over religious oppression,” Lifshitz said. While Thanksgiving is a day of gratitude for the harvest, Hanukkah is a time to celebrate religious freedom, the rabbi added. According to history, Thanksgiving Day first took place with the Pilgrims who came to America in search of free religious exercise. In the same way, the Jews also acknowledge Hanukkah as a holiday to honor religious independence.
For the purpose of combining the two feasts, most people prepared the usual turkey and other traditional foods for Thanksgiving while the eight candles in the Jewish menorah remain lit on the table. The alignment of the two holidays in the Gregorian calendar this year is given a unique amalgam, a combination of their two names – “Thanksgivukkah.” The term has been coined and trademarked by Dana Gitell, a marketing specialist. Another curious word that came out in line with the combined festivities is “menurkey” which stands for menorah and turkey. The item is a menorah-shaped like turkey that was designed by a 9-year old New Yorker kid. The boy’s family is said to have sold thousands of “menurkey” at $50 per piece.
Social network tribute
Social media networks apparently did not pass up the chance to give tribute to the simultaneous observance of Thanksgiving Day and Hanukkah. A Facebook page has been created solely for the two events and has garnered 13,000 likes and still counting. Twitter launched the #Thanksgivukkah hashtag while a lot of YouTube music videos about the twin events have been airing on the web for days now.
The most popular discussions online in connection with “Thanksgivukkah” dwell on suggestions about “mash-up” dishes or recipes that put together the customary foods served in both occasions. Hence there are people who came up with potato latkes with cranberry applesauce and rye pumpkin pie among others.
In many angles, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah celebrations bear so many similarities. Perhaps the most prominent likeness is the religious theme of both holidays. Hanukkah’s story revolves around the lighting of the miraculous menorah in the Holy Temple of Jerusalem after the Maccabees won over the Syrians in the 2nd Century BC. On the other hand, Thanksgiving Day traces its origin from European pilgrims who arrived in America for religious refuge. Despite the fact that the two occasions are not exactly alike, Rabbi Levi Shemtov, director of the Washington office of the ultra-Orthodox Chabad movement said nothing is adverse or contradictory between Jewish and Judaism in Thanksgiving.