Thanksgivukkah - The overlapping of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving in more ways than one Featured

Wednesday, 27 November 2013 07:03
THanukkahIf you haven't heard, Hanukkah, the popular Jewish feast of dedication, aka "festival of lights," arrives quite early this year. In fact, the first candle will be lit this coming Wednesday night. This means the first full day of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving day will be celebrated on the same day November 28, 2013! Wow! This convergence won't occur again for several centuries. It is a result of a rare coincidence between the lunisolar Hebrew calendar and the Gregorian calendar. Because the calendars are not calculated the same way, Chanukah appears at a different time each year on the Gregorian calendar.

Thanksgiving Day has fallen during Hanukkah only twice between 1863 (when Thanksgiving was proclaimed a U.S. federal holiday by President Abraham Lincoln) and 2013: in 1888 Thanksgiving was the first day of Hanukkah. Because the Gregorian and Jewish calendars have slightly different average year lengths, over time they drift out of sync with each other. As a result of this, Thanksgiving Day will not fall entirely within Hanukkah again in the foreseeable future.

Boston Magazine reported that this once-in-a-lifetime concept is being embraced around the U.S. However, there has been some debate about the name; The Israeli newspaper Haaretz posed the question: "Why 'Thanksgivukah'? Why not 'Chanksgiving?'"

The convergence jump-starts the holiday season early for millions of American Jews. Many businesses and people are cashing in on the merchandising opportunities of the blending both holidays. Many creative celebrations are underway. Thanksgivukkah has been characterized by products promoted on and sold online. Funds of over $48,000 to produce a turkey-shaped menorah, dubbed a "menurkey," were raised by a nine-year-old boy in Manhattan. A crafter in Seattle, Washington, created another Thanksgiving-inspired menorah after she saw a camel menorah and decided she needed a "Turkorah. The Mayor of Boston said he would proclaim November 28, 2013, "Thanksgivukkah," saying through a spokeswoman: "This is a big deal, a once-in-a-lifetime event." In New York City, Macy's will include a giant dreidel in its Thanksgiving Day Parade to honor the occasion.
The Hanukkah /Thanksgiving Connection
Hanukkah is normally celebrated closer to the Christmas holidays and as a result, it has acquired some very similar customs such as the sending of cards, family gatherings, giving of gifts to children, acts of charity, feasting, and music retelling the stories behind the history. The themes of lights and miracles also play a prominent role in both Christmas and Hanukkah. Having said all that, it should be noted there are some distinguishing elements of Hanukkah that actually share a significant similarity with the American tradition of Thanksgiving. Taking a deeper look into the meaning of both holidays reveals several meaningful parallels that seems appropriate to highlight.

MenorahWhile the imagery and products surrounding the day are light-hearted such as pumpkin-flavored latkes and other food items, advocates contend it has a broader significance resonant with American democracy. There are amazing similarities between the pilgrims' quest for religious freedom and what the Maccabees were fighting for, referring to the Chanukah story of Judah Maccabee, who led the Hebrews' fight for freedom from and military victory over the Greeks in the second century, B.C. This is a great opportunity for Jewish Americans to celebrate this country and for everyone to acknowledge the greatness of our shared religious freedoms.

Thanksgiving in its original form was intended to remember GOD's bountiful goodness and a time to reflect on the extreme amount of blessings we have as Americans. With the family together, its such a great opportunity to read such applicable scriptures as Psalm 103 which provides a wonderful summary of how GOD provides for us.

Hanukkah in its original form was instituted by Judas Maccabees to remember how GOD delivered the Jews during the 2nd century BC from almost complete extinction. It is essentially comemmorating a military victory that resulted in the rededication of the Holy temple in Jerusalem, from a time of oppression and a threat to their existence as a nation. Hanukkah is the Hebrew word for dedication.

In these times of peace and abundance it's easy to slip into complacence and take our freedoms for granted. Setting aside time to light the candles of freedom each of the eight nights of Hanukkah is a healthy reminder of the cost of freedom and the need to illuminate the truth of GOD's work in history and in our personal lives. Disciples of Jesus understand that the Messiah would bring a freedom deeper than political and national deliverance. Y'shua (Jesus) in speaking of freedom said, "If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:31-36). The way our Messiah Y'shua brings peace is completely opposite of the world. Jesus understood that the greatest cause of oppression was sin. He was the braveheart, greater than King David, greater than Judah Maccabee. By going to the cross on our behalf, he triumphed over the universal obstacle of everyman, our sin.

Understanding his great victory inspires, motivates, moves our hearts to live with gratitude, thanksgiving and a daily rededication of our life to Him and His purpose for our lives. It was actually during the time of Hanukkah in the first century Jesus said, "He was the light of the world" (John 8:12, 10:22). He also described his followers as lights of the world (Matthew 5:14-16) and called them to shine their light through good deeds so that people will give praise to GOD. Its not about menorahs or turkeys or football games or dreidal games. Lighting the candles on Hanukkah and celebrating Thanksgiving definitely go hand in hand as we put the Messiah at the center of both. May you have a meaningful Thanksgivukkah this unique year.

Read 3191 times Last modified on Wednesday, 27 November 2013 12:38