What do Thanksgiving and Hanukkah have in common? This year, they share a day!
In a merger of traditions and celebrations, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah will both occur on November 28.
But both holidays share more than a date.
Thanksgiving had been celebrated in America for hundreds of years, but the date was left up to the states. It was officially proclaimed a national holiday by President Lincoln in 1863, to be celebrated annually on the last Thursday of November.
The tentacles of commercialism influenced a date change in December 1941. Thanksgiving was officially moved to the fourth Thursday of November in the hopes of benefiting the economy with an earlier celebration.
Hanukkah commemorates the successful Maccabean revolt against the Greeks in 162 BC. When they prepared to cleanse the Temple in Jerusalem, they discovered they had only enough consecrated oil to keep the lamp lit for one day. But as the story is told, the supply of oil miraculously lasted for eight days, long enough to prepare and consecrate a new supply of oil.
Both holidays commemorate thankfulness for provision. Whether it’s the Pilgrims celebrating food and friendship offered by the Native Americans or the Jewish people celebrating God’s miraculous provision of oil, the focus is on needs that were met in unexpected ways.
For my Jewish friends, may you have a Happy Hanukkah as well as a Happy Thanksgiving. For my Christian friends, may you celebrate Thanksgiving with gratitude for God’s faithful provision for our greatest need, the need for a Savior who rescued us from sin and restored us to the Father.
In honor of this melding of traditions and celebrations, here’s a link to a recipe for Sweet Potato Latkes!
Enjoy this pleasant convergence of two wonderful celebrations next week. It won’t happen again until the year 79,811!