The first and probably only Thanksgivukkah ever

English: "The First Thanksgiving at Plymo...

English: “The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth” (1914) By Jennie A. Brownscombe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Hanukkah (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When, in 1621 “the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast”the first celebration of Thanksgiving was inaugurated. Then, in 1863, during the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day be observed ever November. The modern day Thanksgiving holiday on the fourth Thursday of November was signed into law by FDR on November 26, 1941 and Americans of all faiths (or none) have followed that tradition to the present.

In December, Christians observe Christmas holiday – a religious holiday which has become so secular that it has lost its Christian flavor. Jews also observe the festival of Hanukkah in December which is not mandated in the Bible. Nevertheless, Hanukkah commemorates the re dedication of the Temple after the defeat of the Hellenists by the Maccabees.

Falling in December as they do, and in some years very close to each other, Hanukkah and Christmas have often competed for the loyalty of the American secularists as well as Jews and Christians who have family members in both faiths. But this year, the story is about Thanksgiving and Hanukkah falling on the same date, November 28, for the first time since the beginning of Thanksgiving and not to happen again for – some people are saying – perhaps a thousand years?

This is special, and the term Thanksgivukkah has already been coined for the holiday. So what can we or should we expect?

Even though Thanksgiving is rooted in spirituality – in that it is virtuous to be thankful at all times, and there are numerous biblical precepts for thanksgiving  – our modern observance has shifted from thanksgiving for a harvest to simply a time of celebration and fellowship. The focus today is families coming together to celebrate, without any specifics.

Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is characterized by what some may call goofiness, that is, making fun and having a good time. Actually, there is nothing goofy about the Menorah which is a demonstration of the miracle that a one day supply of oil managed to last eight days during the re-dedication of the temple. But in addition to lighting the Menorah, there are also Dreidel Games, Gelt, Latkes and Gifts.

While Thanksgiving is a one-day celebration, and inaugurates a holiday season of commerce and consumerism that seems to never end, Hanukkah on the other hand, is an eight day celebration which begins on this Thanksgiving Day. As the first, and probably only, Thanksgivukkah, we will watch developments, experiences and innovations over the next seven days.


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