In case you haven’t heard. Today is first day of the Jewish holiday Hannukkah. Its convergence with the Pilgrim’s inspired celebration of Thanksgiving is about as rare as Haley’s Comet or the Bengals making it to the Super Bowl.
The history of Thanksgivukkah begins with Maccabees and their military missing Sukkot. Why did they fail to celebrate one of the three national holy day? They were fighting to preserve their Torah way of life against the Greeks. A recent article in the Forward makes this observation:
According to II Maccabees, since Jews were too busy fighting a guerrilla war during the fall harvest festival of Sukkot, they made up for it with a “Sukkot in December” two months later, thereby creating a second eight-day holiday — this time giving thanks for a military success instead of an agricultural one. Therefore, the first Hanukkah was actually a delayed Thanksgiving, and so also technically the first Thanksgivukkah!
In his Forward article, Eric Shulmiller continues by connecting various events in American history worthy of Thanksgiving to God and their convergences with Hannukkah. Several important victories during the Revolutionary War coincided with one of the eight days of Hanuakkah. The next time Thanksgivukkah occured was in 1888 when “a large wave of immigrants made their pilgrimage to the Golden Land across the sea to avoid religious persecution in Russia and Eastern Europe.”
The convergence of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah continues to reflect both the Maccabean and Puritan hope of and struggle for liberty and prosperity.
Read Eric Shulmiller’s article “When George Washington Celebrated Thanksgivukkah”.