Something happened this Thanksgiving that has never and will never happen again in any living person’s lifetime. This event was the celebration of Thanksgiving and the first night of Hanukkah on the same night. Popularly referred to as “Thanksgivukkah”, this convergence of holiday celebration will not happen again until the year 78911. Contrary to popular belief, Thanksgivuakkah has happened before in the early history of Thanksgiving.
Since Thanksgiving was officially proclaimed as a national holiday by US President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, one of the eight days of Hanukkah has landed on the day of thanks on two separate occasions; once in 1888 and another in 1899. Both of these years were before the US government changed the day of Thanksgiving to always fall on the fourth Thursday in November, which is still currently the designated day to give thanks. President Obama even made a statement in which he compares the struggles of the Maccabees, who were Jewish rebels fighting off an invading empire in the second century B.C., the story of which serves as a foundation legend for the celebration of Hanukkah, and the pilgrims who landed in American in the 1600s for whom we recognize as the beginners of the Thanksgiving tradition.
This rare occurrence has sparked a wide variety of celebrations that happened on Nov. 28. The traditional cookbooks for Hanukkah and Thanksgiving were combined in the homes of American Jews and new creations designed to honor both celebrations were born. Ideas such as a turkey shaped as the Jewish nine stemmed candelabrum, the menorah, as well as cranberry-applesauce combinations, mashed potatoes with horseradish, and turkeys stuffed with challah bread stuffing. Even the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade included a dreidel shaped float to honor the day.
The convergence of Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah had an effect on the Jewish student population at Wittenberg as well. The Jewish Cultural Club at Wittenberg was unable to have the usual meeting on the first day of Hanukkah due school being out for Thanksgiving.
“In the past Jewish Cultural Club has done a few things to celebrate Hanukkah such as lighting candles and saying a few prayers,” says Jewish Cultural Club leader Julia Barcus, a junior. “Unfortunately, this year Hanukkah landed on the Thanksgiving and we weren’t on campus for the start of it and we didn’t end up doing anything on campus this year to celebrate as a group.”
Although it won’t be for a long time until the two important holidays will be celebrated at the same time, this year’s Thanksgivukkah helped to inspire creativity amongst the American Jewish population to add a different touch to their traditional meals of both holidays. It also inspired people all over the country to recognize the significance of both events in the culture of the country as it adds in a new ingredient to the melting pot of American society.