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Thanksgiving and Hanukkah: Rare Convergence of 2 Holidays Has Families Buzzing with Celebration

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By Susan Selasky

Sonny Cohn of Farmington Hills says her family will celebrate Thanksgiving at her daughter’s house on Thursday and Hanukkah at her house the following Saturday. The grandmother of 10 is just thrilled because she’ll get to celebrate Hanukkah with her son, Randy, and his family from Illinois, who come each year for Thanksgiving.

“It will be the first time we are all celebrating Hanukkah together,” says Cohn, 67. “We always exchange gifts, but this will be the first time we will exchange gifts in person.

“It’s another memory,” she says. “This is another time everyone will remember spending together — that’s what so special about it.”

How “Thanksgivukkah” 2013 Occurred

Yes, there’s a name for this rare convergence of holidays. The term Thanksgivukkah is even trademarked by Dana Gitell, a Massachusetts-based marketing specialist. The buzz surrounding this statistical oddity, as Rabbi Jason Miller called it, is palpable.

—And it’s all thanks to how the holidays fall on the Gregorian calendar and the Jewish calendar, which is on a 19-year cycle. As the Jewish calendar keeps on its cycle, Hanukkah will move back into December.

—Most sources say the last time the first full day of Hanukkah fell on Thanksgiving was in 1888. But since Hanukkah is an eight-day celebration, there have been years since when some nights have overlapped with Thanksgiving. According to several calculations, the holidays won’t coincide again until 2070 and then again in 2165, when the first night of Hanukkah will fall on Thanksgiving.

—It’s important to note that Jewish holidays begin and end at sundown. This year, Hanukkah will begin at sundown Nov. 27 and end at sundown Dec. 5. So the first full day of Hanukkah will be on Thanksgiving Day and a second candle will be lit on the menorah at night.

—And when will the two holidays meet again like this year? Not until 75,000 years from now, according to Santa Fe, N.M., physicist Jonathan Mizrahi’s calculations.

©2013 Detroit Free Press
Distributed by MCT Information Services

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