The Collision of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving

Posted on November 19, 2013



This year, the first night of Hanukkah (or Chanukah, for those able to gargle while speaking) arrives on the evening before Thanksgiving. For Jews in the US, this presents the need for a serious reordering of brain cells. Hanukkah (literal translation: The Holiday We Get, Because Everyone Else gets Christmas) has, for thousands of years (a really long time, to be exact) made sure it occurred as close to Christmas as possible.  Jewish children could then delude themselves that latkes were as good as chocolate Santas, and that spinning a dreidel was as fun as decorating a large conifer and then finding stacks of presents under it the next morning.

The tragic occurrence of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving colliding, now presents two insurmountable problems for Jews: how to combine two holidays that have absolutely nothing to do with each other, and how to pretend that Christmas doesn’t exist when we have no other holiday to distract us.  The last time this collision occurred was in 1888, 1861, or 543 BC (depending on which source you consult) and thus far no one has been able to locate anyone who was alive during any of those years, to find out how exactly it was resolved.

Life in the Boomer Lane’s note: Many wonder why Hanukkah can’t sit still.  It pops up at different times each year, usually in mid-late December. The answer is that Hanukkah follows the Hebrew calendar, which was based on the Babylonian calendar.  It includes the seven-day week, the lunisolar intercalary adjustment, and the names of the months.  The simple answer is that the moon takes an average of twenty-nine and one-half days to complete its cycle; twelve lunar months equal 354 days. A solar year is 365 1/4 days. There is a difference of eleven days per year. To ensure that the Jewish holidays always fall in the proper season, an extra month is added to the Hebrew calendar seven times out of every nineteen years.  (Some of you may now be thinking that this seems awfully silly and unwieldy.  Others, who have far more sense than you, have glazed over this incredibly boring paragraph and already moved on to the next one).

Now, back to the issues at hand: 

Let us examine the first issue.  Many well-intentioned people who obviously have nothing better to do, have suggested combining Thanksgiving and Hanukkah into some rogue holiday called Thanksgivukkah that obliterates the meaning of each.  New food would be invented that would combine both traditions.  The words Thanksgiving or turkey would be inserted into traditional Chanukah (“Oh Hanukkah! Oh Hanukkah! A yontiv a turkey!”)

LBL now goes on record as taking a stand against all this nonsense. Hanukkah celebrates a great battle between the Maccabees (a Jewish rebel army attempting to regain control of Judea) and the Syrians.  What ensued in addition to the military victory, was the subsequent rededication of the temple, in which a lamp in the temple with one day’s worth of oil lasted for eight days. We commemorate this miracle by purchasing toys for our children (the miracle being that, in spite of all the toys they already have, we find new ones they don’t have) and cooking fried potato patties in oil (an homage to the oil in the temple), accompanied by sour cream or applesauce (signifying the fact that we like sour cream and apple sauce.)

Thanksgiving was invented when a group of Native Americans saved the butts of a group of starving and freezing Pilgrims.  The Pilgrims were so thankful for their survival that they killed some turkeys, held a big dinner in their own honor, and invited the Indians, who had to sit at the children’s table.  Once they assured themselves that they were capable of going it on their own, the Indians soon went the way of the turkeys.  We now focus on soon-to-be-dead turkeys as adorable symbols of the holiday and place genetically engineered turkeys on our holiday tables.  Indians, aside from elementary school Thanksgiving pageants, are usually left out of the celebration entirely.

Worse than the mooshing together of two separate holidays is the impending spectre of Christmas, the Holiday That Swallowed the World.  Trees are already all over the place.  Jolly music is blaring in stores.  Large white men with beards are filling out required forms in department store employment offices. This year, now that Hanukkah will have been handily disposed of, Christmas can run amok with no other holiday to divert anyone’s attention.

Luckily, the next time the collision of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving occurs will be in about another 70,000+ years.  Hopefully, someone somewhere will have come up with a solution. Or, by then, the entire year will have been declared one large festive, food-packed holiday called “Shop for Stuff All the Time That You Don’t Need and Give A Lot of Stuff to Everyone Else.”  People will make pilgrimages to Target, and Wal-Mart, sometimes on foot and waving credits cards, to display their ultimate devotion.

As usual, Indians won’t be involved in any of this.