For the first time in 125 years — and the last time for about 80,000 years — Hanukkah and Thanksgiving will intersect this Thursday, forming the super holiday known as Thanksgivukkah.
Thanksgivukkah is created by the overlap of the first full day of the eight-day Hanukkah, which begins this year on the evening of Wednesday, Nov. 27. By the time the turkey is carved and the pumpkin pie is eaten, many American Jewish families will be lighting the menorah, a ritual that pays tribute to the ancient story of Hanukkah, when the oil to light the Holy Temple's menorah lasted not just one day but for eight.
Thanksgivukkah is a rare occurrence. The last time it happened was in 1888, and the next one is slated for 81,056 — 79,043 years for now. Dana Reichman Gitell, who coined the terms Thanksgivukkah, realized the significance of the holiday and sprung into action to lift it into mainstream pop culture, according to The Times of Israel.
“She was driving to work in November 2012, thinking about how a year from then, this was going to be big deal,” The Times of Israel reported, “that it would become a part of pop culture, but also that there would be a more serious aspect to it.”
Though celebrating the holiday started out as fun for Gitell, eventually it caught on in pop culture, and suddenly everyone was coming up with new stories, ideas and conceptions (like the menurkey) for the holiday, The Times of Israel reported.
The Huffington Post recently published a set of different blessings from rabbis across the country, who combined aspects of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving in their statements.
“On this special day of Thanksgivukkah, we feel so blessed. We celebrate the gifts of two joyous holidays instead of one,” wrote Rabbi Jason Miller. “Let us be thankful for the blessings — both the blessings we receive and the blessings we gift to our family and to our friends.”
Boston’s NPR news station, WBUR, geared up for the holiday by posting some recipes for Thanksgivukkah, which include gluten-free and vegan dishes.
“Thanksgiving is a time to serve familiar favorites,” wrote WBUR. “But with Hanukkah starting on Wednesday evening, many families have two traditions coming at once.
But not everyone is sharing happy thoughts about the super holiday. Allison Benedikt, a writer for Slate, recently explained her reasons why Thanksgivukkah isn’t a good idea. She said she enjoys Thanksgiving as a secular event, and she doesn’t want her kids thinking the holiday should have gifts and presents attached to it.
“And while Thanksgivukkah is a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence, I guarantee that every little Jewish boy and girl who gets a gift on Thursday will, going forward, expect gifts on the fourth Thursday of November — forever,” she wrote.
The two holidays may share more than one might think, according to Time magazine, which unveiled five similarities between Hanukkah and Thanksgiving. Not only are they both rooted in religion, but they are both “a reason to go home,” Time reported.
“People aren’t flooding public parks or places of religious worship on either of these holidays,” the magazine reported. “People aren’t reciting long Hebrew prayers or poring over the Mayflower manifests either. These are both celebrations that involve sitting at home, catching up with Gram-Gram.”