Everything You Need to Know About Thanksgivukkah

'Tis a once-in-a-lifetime day for dreidels and dressing! (And hardcore napping)

  • Share
  • Read Later
Kim DeMarco for ModernTribe.com

Gather your gourds and yarmulkes—it’s time to celebrate Thanksgivukkah.

In a rare alignment of calendars, the first day of Hanukkah will fall on the same day as Thanksgiving this year: Nov. 28. Here’s everything you need to know about the power holiday, the best excuse for overeating since sliced potatoes.

It won’t happen again for 70,000 years.  

As you might have heard, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of each November. Americans keep track of that date using the Gregorian calendar. Hanukkah, the eight-day Jewish holiday, is governed by the Hebrew calendar, which can have between 353 and 385 days per year. So the start date of the Festival of Lights varies in relation to other holidays, typically falling in December. The first day of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving haven’t coincided like this since 1888 and won’t coincide again until the year 79811, according to an analysis done by physicist Jonathan Mizrahi.

Like Thanksgiving, the holiday has roots in Massachusetts.

The woman credited with coining the name Thanksgivukkah—as well as the owner of the trademark, Twitter account and domain—is a 37-year-old marketing specialist from the Boston area. Dana Gitell first hit on the idea in 2011 after seeing a calendar that showed when Jewish holidays would fall over the next five years. “I was driving and thinking about what you would call that day and rolling the words around in my mind, and I came up with the word Thanksgivukkah,” she says. Hanugiving really just didn’t stuff her turkey, and the chosen name echoes Chrismukkuh, a portmanteau holiday popularized by The O.C. in 2004.

It’s a foodie festival.

“It’s been about food from the start,” says Gitell, whose sister-in-law is organizing a Thanksgivukkah celebration in Los Angeles that promises “light, liberty and latkes.” Gitell says she started to get attention after BuzzFeed ran a DIY piece imagining the fusion menu, with dishes like sweet potato noodle kugel and pecan-pie rugelach.  Restaurants have developed special menus for the holiday, too. New York’s Kutsher’s bistro is offering a three-course special for $65, including pumpkin shlishkas and the choice of turkey or brisket.

It’s getting official recognition.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino has announced that he plans to pronounce Nov. 28 “Thanksgivukkah Day,” giving the holiday a chance for legacy celebrations within our lifetimes. “Combining those two days sends out a strong message,” he told JewishBoston.com. “By us celebrating that day—Thanksgivukkah—it shows that we’re working together to improve our society, to understand our differences and to make a stronger world.” Macy’s, meanwhile, has announced that they will include a giant dreidel in their famed Thanksgiving Day Parade in honor of the occasion.

Put on your shoppin’ shoes. A new holiday means new retail opportunities.

For $50, you can purchase a turkey-shaped menorah known as a menurkey, the invention of a nine-year-old who got his idea funded on Kickstarter. Or you can buy an official gear like a commemorative T-shirt—made in America, of course—from Modern Tribe. The goods are selling like such hot latkes that the small business has nearly doubled its staff since the goods went on sale. On a broader scale, retail experts have questioned whether this year’s early start of gift-giving for Hanukkah will upset the normal flow of holiday shopping. But according to MarketWatch, many analysts believe the double-holiday frenzy will simply jump-start holiday shopping.

Thanksgivukkah has a serious side, too.

When the idea first struck Gitell, she knew people would find it amusing. “The more I thought about,” she says, “I realized it’s also an opportunity to celebrate the Jewish-American experience and for Jewish-Americans to give thanks for America and the religious freedoms we enjoy here.” It’s also a chance for Hanukkah to enjoy a fresh spotlight, rather than being “lumped in” with Christmas, she says.

“It’s funny for Jews to think about the whole world stopping on a Jewish holiday because that’s not how it works in this country,” she says. “There’s something about that that feels good, to share a holiday moment like that with your whole family and the whole country.”