By now you’ve probably heard: Thanksgiving and Hanukkah are overlapping in an occurrence so rare it won’t happen again for over 77,000 years. That’s a lot of time to fill between turkey latkes.
People seem to be having endless fun with this holiday mixture, and the Internet is full of songs, recipes, arguments for, arguments against, and other creative ways to blend two holidays that aren’t typically friends. Even the comic strips are in on the fun: Fritz and Rhymes with Orange have run Thanksgivvukah jokes.
Merriment aside, I find myself drawn to the Thanksgiving-Hanukkah confluence for different reasons, reasons that feel less well articulated than all the jokes and jollies. I have a sensation inside of me that is not yet translated into words — a perfect place for unplanned reflective writing. So here goes.
My prompt to myself: “When I think about this rare overlap of Thanksgiving-Hanukkah, I am aware of ______”
I am aware of awe in the face of time. We think we know time. We use the calendar. We count out how many days until an event and we plan how many days we need to complete a task. We believe in weeks and months and years, and nearly all of us can recite “Thirty Days Hath September…” as a way to remember if a month has 30 or 31 days. We have some dates that never shift (Valentine’s Day, Christmas) and some dates that are linked to Mondays (Labor Day, Memorial Day). And we have some dates that fall on a designated day, like Thanksgiving’s fourth Thursday in November. When it comes to holidays, we believe in constancy.
But along comes Hanukkah, which of course is linked to the Jewish calendar rather than the Gregorian. The Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar, which makes for its own kind of variability. But the the Jewish calendar isn’t satisfied with just the moon: it also syncs with the sun periodically so that holidays fall in the right season. This is tricky business, and to make everything work out, the calendar rabbis decided there needed to be some leap months. We all know about Leap Year, the corrective device every four years in the Gregorian Calendar, but who knew about the Leap Month? When you start adding in extra months to a calendar that is already drifting about from lunar cycles, you get some unexpected time shifts. Dr. Who might call it “wibbly wobbly timey-wimey.”
So here we are, faced with an overlap of two holidays that do not ordinarily meet, and will not meet again for a very, very (very) long time. (How many “very’s” do you need for 77,000 years?) My wondering mind goes into overdrive at this thought. How can one imagine 77,000 years from now? Will our world still exist? What, if anything, will remain of our planet — the vegetation, the animals, the population, the oceans, the color of the sky? If humans are lucky enough to still exist, who will they be and how will they be transformed?
We live with many stories first taught to us in childhood. The story of the first Thanksgiving between the Pilgrims and the American Indians is one such story. Perhaps in 77,000 years, there will be another Thanksgiving story, one telling of aliens from other universes eating cranberry latkes with the creatures who evolve from us.
The only thing we know for sure is that that we — the you and I who are living here today — will not be around for the next Thanksgivvukah. So enjoy this one, as fully, joyfully, abundantly, consciously, contemplatively, and gratefully as possible, which of course is what every once-in-a-multi-milliennia event deserves.
Questions for Reflection: What is your reaction to an event as rare as Thanksgiving + Hanukkah? In what ways is Thanksgivvukah meaningful to you? If you could imagine the world for the next Hanukkah and Thanksgiving, 77,000 years from now, what would you imagine?
Writing Prompts: “When I think about the rare overlap of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, I am aware of ______” (then keep writing); “Trying to imagine 77,000 years from now makes me ______” (then keep writing); “This post makes me think of ______” (then keep writing); “If I could wish anything for the world 77,000 years in the future, I’d wish ______” (then keep writing).
The song link in the post above is a parody of the song “Royals” by Lorde. If you have not heard this song performed by Florida State University AcaBelles, listen now! Mesmerizing.