For the first time since 1888, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah will converge, marking the first joint celebration of the two holidays aptly named Thanksgivukkah.
This year Thanksgiving Day will mark the first day of Hanukkah – the eight-day festival that celebrates the rededication during the second century B.C. of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, when Jews revolted against their Greek-Syrian oppressors called the Maccabean Revolt. Since Hanukkah starts on Wednesday at sundown, the second candle will be lit on Turkey Day.
The “once-in-a-lifetime” holiday is being marked by Jews across America by decorating their homes with turkey menorahs known as menurkies and dreidels decorated with birds known as turkels to commemorate the special event, the Associated Press reports.
“I think it’s a nice way to integrate the two holidays,” Lori Rashty, a teacher at Detroit’s Hillel Day School, said. “Since we’re not going to see it again for 79,000 years, it’s kind of an exciting way for the kids to realize that it’s a special occasion for them.”
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For those unfamiliar with the hybrid holiday, below are answers to common questions surrounding Thanksgivukkah:
Why Does Thanksgiving And Hanukkah Fall On The Same Day?
The Jewish calendar uses a 12-month lunar-solar calendar with an extra month occasionally added in, making holidays fluctuate from year to year. Secular dates that follow the Gregorian calendar also change, and in 2013, the holidays are very early.
Hanukkah, usually falls close to Christmas, making it a well-known holiday regardless of religion. But this year the holiday is slowly “slipping back in time.”
"The Jewish calendar self-corrects somewhat, with a 'leap month' in early spring, but in a lunar calendar all the holidays wander," Robert Alter, founding director of the new Center for Jewish Studies at UC Berkeley, told the San Francisco Chronicle.
When Is The Next Thanksgivukkah?
The next time Thanksgivukkah will be celebrated is in 79,043 years from now, according to one estimate. Another suggests Thanksgivukkah will take place in 2070 and 2165. Others believe the convergence of the two holidays will never happen again.
What Are People Doing To Combine The Holidays?
While Thanksgiving is a secular holiday, it focuses on food – a major part of most Jewish holidays. Hanukkah is no exception.
“Instead of mashed potatoes, we’ll make latkes,” Tracy Truesdell from Minneapolis told CBS News. “I’m a very traditional cooker, so I prefer just regular potato latkes.”
Others have concocted hybrid recipes including pumpkin challah, beef and potato latkes, and Manischewitz ice cream.
Online Jewish gift stores are also banking on the unusual holiday. Manischewitz is selling do-it-yourself gingerbread houses advertised as Hanukkah houses. T-shirts with sayings like “Gobble Tov,” turkey menorahs, dreidel salt and pepper shakers, and dishware are among the many Thanksgivukkah souvenirs used to mark the holiday.
And while one holiday is religious and the other secular, families have found creative ways to find similarities between the two.
"At the time of Hanukkah, we are thankful for the miracles and blessings in our lives," Rabbi Danielle Upbin of Congregation Beth Shalom in Clearwater, Fla., told the Tampa Bay Times. "In that light, I think the motif of gratitude and rededication are interlinked."
Asher Weintraub, a fourth-grader from New York, agrees.
"I think they're similar because we all get together with our families and we're thankful for what we have," Weintraub told Reuters. "There's something funny about Hanukkah and Thanksgiving coming together."