Thanksgivukkah: When America and Judaism CollideBy: Brian Powell - October 7, 2013
For most Americans, Hanukkah is the Jewish equivalent of the Christian Christmas. It makes sense, right? Hanukkah usually falls around the same time as Christmas, presents are exchanged during each, there are certain dietary requirements/needs/wants…
What most Americans don’t realize, though, is that Hanukkah has no associations with Christmas. Hanukkah is a celebration of the Maccabees revolt against the Greeks in the 2nd century B.C., an event which liberated the Jews from oppression for the first time in many years. In fact, Boston marketing specialist, Dana Gitell, believes that there are great parallels between the story of the Jews and the Pilgrims: “There are amazing similarities between the Pilgrims’ quest for religious freedom and what the Maccabees were fighting for. This a great opportunity for Jewish Americans to celebrate this country and for everyone to acknowledge the greatness of our shared religious freedoms.”
This is the first time the two holidays have fallen on the same date since 1888 (at least since Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday), and it may be the last time this mash-up happens until the year 79,043, according to astrophysics researchers.
The reason for the discrepancy in the date of Hanukkah has to do with the fact that the Hebrew calendar is different than the Gregorian calendar. The Gregorian calendar is solar-based, and so we add one day every 4 years to make up with the revolutionary discrepancies. The Hebrew calendar, however, is lunar-based. As such, every calendar year has 12 months of 29 or 30 days. This results in an extra month being added to the calendar in 7 of every 19 years. Jews follow a lunar calendar to ensure that their seasonal feasts are always seasonally appropriate.
Thanksgivukkah has shown much promise thus far. The unique collision of cultures has brought the creative spirit back to the holidays, and many people are taking advantage of the once in a lifetime business and culinary opportunities.
A 9 year old boy in New York has invented the Menurkey, a turkey-shaped Menorah. T-shirts in a mock-Woodstock fashion have been crafted which feature a turkey on a guitar-menorah and the phrase “8 Days of Light, Liberty, and Latkes.” There has even been a song produced entitled “The Ballad of Thanksgivukkah.”
Thanksgivukkah also presents opportunities for all the foodies here in the United States. BuzzFeed pulled its staff together to create their own version of a Thanksgivukkah feast, the most appealing item perhaps being the sweet potato bourbon noodle kugel (it’s even fun to say, dammit).
Kutsher’s Tribeca, a modern Jewish-American bistro, is taking full-advantage of an opportunity which seems to be created just for them. The restaurant has created a full three-course Thanksgiving dinner, which includes such items as sweet potato latkes topped with melted marshmallows, a Jewish donut filled with Cranberry sauce, and a turkey with a chocolate mole sauce created from Hanukkah gelt.
All of these amazingly ingenious cultural mash-ups makes one wonder what other holiday combinations could create such magical results: Chrisdepedence Day, where we light fireworks instead of stringing Christmas lights? Or perhaps Hallotine’s Day, where people in relationships give candy to those lonely souls in the world? Let us know your thoughts in the Comment section below.
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