Thanksgiving and Hanukkah each come but once a year.
But Thanksgivukkah? The last time it occurred was in 1888. And, after this year, you’ll have to wait more than 75,000 years before you can celebrate this rare holiday again.
Thanksgivukkah is the term coined for the overlap of Thanksgiving with the first day of the eight-day festival of Hanukkah.
“It’s a topic of conversation,” said Temple Beth Israel Rabbi Jonathan Katz. “In terms of gastronomy, there’s lots of attempts at overlaps.”
When Katz learned about the holiday overlap earlier this year, he consulted with an artist about creating a turkey-shaped menorah to commemorate the event. He soon learned that 9-year-old Asher Weintraub, of New York City, had already built the “menurkey,” so he ordered one from the boy’s website, menurkey.com.
Nationwide, the convergence of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah has led foodies and restaurants to be creative.
The Thanksgivukkah dinner at Kutsher’s Tribeca, in New York City, will feature sweet potato latkes, challah-chestnut stuffing, pumpkin knishes, cranberry-filled donuts and a cornucopia overflowing with chocolate gelt. Restaurant personnel plan to greet diners with a warm “Gobble Tov.”
At the temple, Katz hasn’t found many people who plan to fuse foods, although he did give the recipe for butternut squash latkes to a woman who stopped by his office. Instead, many of his congregants say they’ll serve Hanukkah foods such as doughnuts and latkes along with Thanksgiving food. Some say they’d do more if their grandchildren were nearby.
How will the rest of the Key celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime day?
Harry’s Continental Kitchens, which typically prepares approximately 500 Thanksgiving dinners and between 100 and 200 Hanukkah Seder meals each year, won’t be observing Thanksgivukkah.
“It would be too much because we’re so busy for Thanksgiving,” said Hal Christensen, general manager.
On Nov. 28, the restaurant will serve only Thanksgiving fare, but, later in the week, it will have Seder dishes such as brazed beef brisket and noodle kugel, available by advance order.
Longboat Key resident Sharon Oper plans to forgo a Seder dinner on the first day of Hanukkah, opting instead for a traditional Thanksgiving meal.
“Just think how many calories we’re going to save by combining the two meals,” Oper said.
Susan Landau is heading to Greenville, S.C., to visit her daughter. They’ll probably eat a traditional Thanksgiving dinner plus potato pancakes to go with the stuffing. They’ll light the menorah candles afterward.
Katz believes there’s more to Thanksgivukkah than menurkeys and cranberry-filled doughnuts.
Both Thanksgiving and Hanukkah are associated with giving thanks, and both the Maccabees and Pilgrims were religiously persecuted and sought liberation from tyranny. The significance could go even further.
“Some historians contend that the early Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving observance was rooted in the Jewish harvest festival of Sukkot. Often referring themselves to as ‘new Israel,’ they likely knew that the holiday commemorated Israel’s deliverance from Egyptian oppression,” Katz wrote in the temple’s bulletin.
Katz wrote that Hanukkah itself could constitute a delayed celebration of Sukkot, because during the Maccabean struggle, the festival couldn’t be celebrated at the normal time and was postponed until the fighting ended.
He lists the similarities of Sukkot and Hanukkah: Both are eight days, involve the recitation of Hallel psalms and celebrate light.
“Additionally, not only did King Solomon dedicate the first temple on Sukkot but the second temple was also dedicated during the festival. Perhaps not coincidentally, Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the temple,” Katz wrote.
The rabbi plans to share his menurkey with his congregation.
“When you talk about something that won’t happen again for 75,000 years,” Katz said, “you kind of feel like you’re living in a special time.”
A Hanukkah dinner will take place
6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4, at Temple Beth Israel, 567 Bay Isles Road. For information, call 383-3428.
Contact Robin Hartill at [email protected]