This year, Thanksgiving + Hanukkah = Thanksgivukkah

Somebody call Adam Sandler. We need another Hanukkah song.

This year, thanks to an extremely rare convergence, Thanksgiving (Nov. 28) falls during the eight-day Jewish Festival of Lights. Some are calling it “Hanu-giving.” Others prefer “Thanksgivukkah.”

Hit it, Adam.

“Tell your Aunt Viv-ica Here comes Thanks-givukkah!”


From a purely numerical standpoint it’s a pretty big deal. Math geeks say the last time it happened — at least since President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a federal holiday — was 1888. And by one calculation it won’t happen again for another — hold onto your latkes — 79,000 years.



years, to be exact. But who’s counting?

Rabbi Elchanan Schulgasser, for one. A teacher with an economics degree at the KC Kollel, a Jewish educational center in Overland Park, he understands the math. It all starts with the lunar nature of the Hebrew calendar, he said, which makes the holiday appear to drift slightly from year to year (as Easter does).

Actually, Hanukkah starts on the same day every year on the Hebrew calendar. But since the months of that calendar have only 29 or 30 days, the Jewish year falls roughly 11 days short of the 365-day Gregorian calendar. To keep everything in sync an extra “leap month” is added seven times every 19 years. That made Hanukkah unusually early this year. Combine that with an extremely late Thanksgiving, and boom! Thanksgivukkah! It falls on the second night of Hanukkah.

Got it? No?

Trust us. It’s



And for many Jewish families, it is raising some interesting questions. Should you make sweet potato pancakes (aka latkes), or just top your traditional potato ones with cranberry sauce instead of applesauce? Or maybe cranapple sauce? If you fry your kosher turkey in oil, will the taste linger miraculously for eight days and nights in your mouth? Will “fowl” language be permitted at the table? (Insert rimshot here using the turkey’s own drumsticks).

Yes, this is a thing. Thanksgivukkah has its own Facebook page with more than 9,000 likes. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino promised to proclaim Nov. 28, 2013, “Thanksgivukkah.” And the Manischewitz company rolled out a multi-million dollar campaign encouraging people to celebrate the once-in-forever occurrence.

There are Thanksgivukkah T-shirts, recipes, note cards. Locally the Roasterie has created its own Harvest/Hanukkah blend of kosher coffee.

And you want jokes? We got jokes.

Rabbi Perl from Mineola, N.Y., tells this one online:

“Do you know why the price of soup is so expensive this year at catered Thanksgivukkah parties? It has 24 carrots! Haha!”

But seriously Thanksgivukkah poses several real-life conundrums. What kind of food do you serve? How do you decorate when the browns and reds of Thanksgiving clash with Hanukkah’s blue motif? And after using up two feasts in one night,


what are you supposed to eat?

At least Deborah Rock, a Jewish educator from Overland Park, has the food figured out.

“I make a turkey-shaped bread for Thanksgiving, and I always put sugar on top of it,” she said. “This year the sugar is going to be blue and silver. We’re making latkes instead of sweet potato pie. And afterward we’re going to use the latkes for bread and have turkey sandwiches with the leftover turkey.”

But won’t decorating be a problem?

“Nope,” she said. “The house will be decorated completely for Hanukkah. Thanksgiving will just be a visitor.”

For Steve Wilson, who taught sixth grade Sunday school for seven years at the Temple, Congregation B’nai Jehudah in Overland Park, the two holidays are compatible. After all, he said, there are amazing similarities between the Pilgrims’ quest for religious freedom and the ancient Hebrews’ fight for freedom from the Greeks in the Hanukkah story.

“That ties into the Thanksgiving motif of being thankful for the religious freedoms that we enjoy in this country,” he said.

How will his family celebrate Thanksgivukkah?

“We’re definitely planning to mix some traditions,” he said. “Have potato latkes instead of mashed potatoes in the Thanksgiving feast. And I joked that we really need to have a fried turkey, but I don’t know whether we’ll get into all that.”

One thing’s for sure.

“It’s going to be very strange this December,” he said. “Generally Hanukkah and Christmas have had a little bit of an overlap. But this year that’s all out.”

But it’ll be fun while it lasts. And what fun would a convergence that’s not going to happen for another 70,000 years be without someone profiting from it? Zazzle.com is offering Thanksgivukkah wrapping paper for $15.99. The paper reads, in part, “Nun Gobble Hey Shin. Happy Thanksgivukkah!”

The words are a play on the Hebrew letters inscribed on the four sides of the spinning top known as a dreidel — nun,


hey and shin — which stand for the phrase that translates to “A great miracle happened there.”

Then there’s the “Menurkey,” a trademarked turkey-shaped menorah. Its inventor, a 9-year-old New York boy, reportedly raised nearly $50,000 on the online funding site Kickstarter. You can even buy Woodstock-inspired T-shirts from the folks who trademarked “Thanksgivukkah.” They feature a turkey perched on the neck of a guitar and read “8 Days of Light, Liberty and Latkes.”

And, of course, guitars bring us back to Adam Sandler.

On a Sandler message board one poster wrote:

“So for the only time in 70,000 years we will get to celebrate Thanksgivukkah? I am expecting a (cool) Adam Sandler song to celebrate, else I will be mighty disappointed.”

Something like

You cook the turkey, and light the menorah.

Then pour on the gravy, and I’ll dance the hora

Just a suggestion.

You listening, Sandler?