November 28, 2013
2013 Holidays Of Thanks
What do Thanksgiving and Hanukkah have in common? Well, as it turns out, quite a bit. In fact, National Geographic explains their similarities in a recent article. Why the focus on these two holidays? Well, this year Hanukkah begins on Thanksgiving, the first time since 1888. Oh, and it will not happen again until, oh, 79,811. That is definitely a reason to understand their connections and to celebrate the overlap.
So, what are some of their similarities? As Nat Geo outlines,
“The 17th-century Pilgrims ‘quite clearly modeled their celebration’ of thanks for crops that would sustain them through the winter on the biblical fall harvest holiday known as the Festival of the Tabernacles, or Sukkot, he says.
Moreover, Hanukkah itself was a belated celebration of Sukkot. Unable to observe Sukkot at the proper time because they were in the midst of fighting, the Maccabees celebrated instead at the time of the rededication of the Temple, which is Hanukkah. Hanukkah begins on 25 Kislev, which is a bit more than two months after Sukkot, which begins on 15 Tishrei.”
So, similarity number one is that both are a celebration of thanks, for crops, safety, life, God, family, bounty, and so much more.
The second similarity comes in the form of food. One of the main benefits of both holiday celebrations is food, and both use some of the same types of foods to celebrate. For instance, both involve potatoes. For Thanksgiving, people eat mashed potatoes, potatoes au gratin, sweet potatoes, candied yams, and even plain ol’ baked potatoes. Hanukkah has the potato pancake. Part of the reason potatoes play such a big role in both holidays has to do with the locale of the inception of each. See the potato is a local crop for both the New England and Eastern Europe areas where these two holidays originated.
Of course, the celebrations also involve family time, talk, and love, so they have those in common as well.
Just why do Thanksgiving and Hanukkah parallel so infrequently? And why this year? National Geographic identifies that the Gregorian calendar determines Thanksgiving. Hanukkah, on the other hand, is determined by the Hebrew calendar. These calendars differ in many ways, but most specifically, they differ in that the Gregorian is solar, months and years determined by the sun, while the Hebrew one is lunisolar, meaning the months are determined by the phases of the moon and years according to the sun. In Gregorian, there are leap years while Hebrew has leap months to keep the seasons in sync. Thanksgiving alternates days every year because it falls on the fourth Thursday of November every year in the US. Hanukkah always falls on the same day in the Hebrew calendar. This year, those days are the same.
National Geographic tells that this will not happen again until the year 79,811 because the Hebrew calendar is slipping just a bit behind the Gregorian one thus “200 years from now, Hanukkah won’t ever begin earlier than November 29. Because November 28 is the latest day that Thanksgiving can fall, the two holidays won’t overlap again until the year 79,811.”
So, this year we get extra special holiday festivities. So, Happy Thanksgiving to all, and may the first day of Hanukkah be extra special for Jewish celebrants. Nat Geo said that this year, the holidays have a meshed name, so…
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