So, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah. Hanukkah and Thanksgiving. What came first, the chicken or the egg? What holiday is more important? What holiday means more? What’s the big deal?
What we are seeing this year, the overlapping of these 2 festive holidays is something we have never seen before. How so? The Jewish calendar repeats on a 19 year cycle, and Thanksgiving repeats on a 7 year cycle. You would therefore expect them to coincide every 133 years. Subsequently the last time it would have happened is 1861. However, President Abraham Lincoln only formally established Thanksgiving in 1863. So indeed this never has happened before. Calculations indicate that if the calendars would remain as they are it would happen again on or around the year 79, 811. That is far enough from now in a world some feel is heading towards self-destruction for me to say it will indeed never happen again.
So is this just a cool thing that we can have fun with, or does it have a deeper meaning? Well I guess that would be up to everyone’s personal perspective to determine if it is or is not. I’ve been thinking about it and have come up with some of my own personal conclusions.
My birthday is January 2. Therefore throughout my adult life the parties and festivities that have surrounded my birthday have always been somewhat diluted by News Years Eve and Day. Factor in the fact that I was born the day after my mother’s 40th birthday, and you’ll understand that I am no stranger to mixing special days and events. Also, with Hanukkah often falling at the end of December, I have received plenty of “combined” birthday/Hanukkah gifts. So what are we combining on Thursday November 28, 2013 more than anything else? The easy answer and one that applies to basically everyone celebrating both holidays, is food and or alcohol. The deeper answer is the giving of thanks to God.
So why would I ruin a perfectly pleasant post with deep religious statements about gratitude towards the heavens? Well isn’t that supposed to be what we are really going to do on Thursday? Hanukkah is called the Festival of Lights as it celebrates the miracle of how one day’s worth of oil stayed lit for 8 days in the holy temple of Jerusalem. However, part of the celebration of Hanukkah revolves around the Maccabees and their courageous battles in defense of the Jewish people against Roman aggression. Which, to paraphrase the old joke, makes Hanukkah similar to every other Jewish Holiday. They tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat.
So Hanukkah is also a holiday in which to give thanks. Of course one of the ways we Jews celebrate this is by frying a potato in a pan, the latke, and making it so oily you COULD actually light a candle for 8 days. But whoever said being thankful had anything to do with eating healthy? Personally I prefer turkey over latkes but don’t expect to get a reprieve because the holidays fall together. Oh well. Over the course of 8 days let the chips, or in this case latkes, fall where they may.
As I think about it I realize that nothing will really be all that different this Thursday. I’ll still watch football, still eat turkey, have a drink or 2, and enjoy the company of loved ones. Considering the amount of down time in a day and the amount of time spent sleeping, we’re really only talking about 8 hours or so that even matter in this discussion anyway. The difference will only really take place at the end of the day Thursday, when in most years everyone is too stuffed, too relaxed or too drunk to move or even talk, this year we’ll have to stand up, say a prayer and light some candles. Or if we eat late enough and light the candles early enough reverse the order. And oh yes, we will continue showing gratitude to God. Who knows? Maybe this double whammy of thankfulness will be a catalyst for those who normally don’t realize what they have to be thankful for. If nothing else, we’ll certainly eat well.
Have a happy and healthy….whatever.
Happy and healthy all the way. Oh what fun it is to…Oh wait. That’s that other holiday.
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