November 28 – Thanksgivukkah

Posted on November 28, 2013

Many people are saying that this has never happened before. And that it won't happen again until the year 79,811!

Which is more than 77 THOUSAND years from now.

But....that's not quite true.

What are we talking about? This year a very rare event is going to happen: Hanukkah will start on Thanksgiving!

Gobble tov! Get out your menurkey! Light the candles on the tur-norah! Spin the drumstick dreidel and collect the giblet gelt!

Now, why, oh why am I disagreeing with the people saying that this has never happened before and won't happen again for tens of thousands of years?

Breaking it down:

Although the Pilgrims and their friendly Native American neighbors ate the first Thanksgiving in the fall of 1621, and President George Washington declared a national day of Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November in 1789, Thanksgiving didn't become a regular, predictable national holiday until 1863, when Lincoln declared the last Thursday of November to be henceforth a national holiday. (He was of course honoring the date that Washington had established as a one-time thing 74 years earlier.)

President Franklin D. Roosevelt later changed Thanksgiving from the last Thursday in November to the fourth Thursday in November; still, we will start counting from the 1863 Thanksgiving. And here is how Thanksgiving stacks up with the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah:

(Wait! First I'd better mention that Hanukkah is always celebrated on the 25th day of the month of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar. Also, Jewish holidays always start at sundown of the evening before. So, keeping those things in mind...)

Thanksgiving 11/29/1888 – first day of Hanukkah (but it started the evening before, so light two candles on the menorah)

Thanksgiving 11/30/1899 – fifth day of Hanukkah (light 6 candles)

Thanksgiving 11/28/1899 – Hanukkah eve (light 1 candle)

Thanksgiving 11/28/2013 – first day of Hanukkah (light 2 candles)

And, assuming that Thanksgiving continues to be the fourth Thursday, and that the Gregorian calendar remains in use without alteration, AND assuming that Hanukkah remains Kislev 25 on the unaltered Hebrew calendar:

Thanksgiving 11/27/2070 – Hanukkah eve (light 1 candle)

Thanksgiving 11/28/2165 – Hanukkah eve (light 1 candle)

Where did the 79,811 date come in? A Jewish scholar computed that date as the next time that the FIRST day of Hanukkah (light two candles) would happen on the fourth Thursday of November. I feel just a little bit skeptical that it will take that long for the calendars to synch up again...but I can see that this is a different question than “When will any part of the Hanukkah celebration (from sundown of the 24th of Kislev to sundown on the last day of Hanukkah) coincide with Thanksgiving?”

For more on Thanksgiving, check out these earlier posts:

Also on this date:

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