“The one thing about the Thanksgiving table is if you add another starch to it, nobody notices.”
It only happens once every 79,000 years. Thanksgivukkah: when Thanksgiving and the start of Hanukkah fall on the same day.
This event has only happened twice between 1863 (when President Lincoln declared Thanksgiving as a U.S. federal holiday) and 2013. In 1888 Thanksgiving was the first day of Hanukkah, and then fell on the fourth day in 1899.
The phrase “Thanksgiviukkah” was coined by a resident of Boston who created a Facebook page and a Twitter account devoted to the event. The mayor of Boston, Thomas Menino, said he would proclaim November 28, 2013, “Thanksgivukkah.”
“This is a big deal,” Menino says, “a once-in-a-lifetime event.”
Kevin Devlin, a mathematician and writer, describes the new holiday in his own words on NPR.
“Thanksgiving is the easy one,” he says. “You know, it’s the fourth Thursday every November. So anybody can do that. That was a nice, simple, American-style celebration that doesn’t change from year to year. But then you’ve got this thing called the Jewish calendar, which is, as is appropriate with the history of the Jews … [it’s] got a lot of complications.”
Complications happen because the Gregorian and Jewish calendars have slightly different average year lengths and, over time, drift out of sync with each other.
“The simplest way to look at it is that the Jewish calendar is slowly moving forward. Roughly it moves forward about four days every thousand years. So this is pretty slow,” Devlin says. “And that’s why it would take maybe 70,000 or 80,000 years before this thing cycles all the way around again and hits Thanksgiving again.”
Despite the mild confusion, images of latkes fried in turkey schmaltz (rendered chicken fat flavored with onion), a mixture of potatoes and sweet potatoes, and a tart cranberry applesauce to top the fritters run through the minds of Jewish Americans.
Rivka Friedman, a writer and blogger from Washington, D.C. includes some scrumptious recipes on her blog and on The Jewish Daily.
The Huffington Post also posts some wonderful recipes for this unique mesh of holidays:
According to NPR, Tina Wasserman, author of the cookbook Entree to Judaism for Families, thinks the fact that Thanksgiving and Hanukkah overlap this year makes for even better food, family, and memories.
“This is a time to give thanksgiving for what’s been brought to the table by your ancestors,” Wasserman says. “And that to me, regardless of whether you celebrate Hanukkah or not, is really what it’s all about for Thanksgiving.”
Susan Stamberg, special correspondent for NPR’s Morning Edition, shares her favorite recipe, passed down from her mother-in-law, dating back to 1959: Mama Stamberg’s Cranberry Relish.
Mama Stamberg’s Cranberry Relish
Makes 1 1/2 pints
2 cups whole raw cranberries, washed
1 small onion
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons horseradish from a jar (“red is a bit milder than white”)
Grind the raw berries and onion together. (“I use an old-fashioned meat grinder,” Stamberg says. “I’m sure there’s a setting on the food processor that will give you a chunky grind, not a puree.”)
Add everything else and mix.
Put in a plastic container and freeze.
Early Thanksgiving morning, move it from freezer to refrigerator compartment to thaw. (“It should still have some little icy slivers left.”)
The relish will be thick, creamy and shocking pink. (“OK, Pepto-Bismol pink.”)
Happy Thanksgivukkah to all!
image via: YouTube