Thoughts on “Thanksgivukkah”

So apparently, according to the Internet, “Thanksgivukkah” is the name given for what many of us are doing today when we celebrate both Chanukah and Thanksgiving at the same time. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems odd to have a special name for this combined celebration.  Celebrating two holidays at once is something we Jews do on a somewhat regular basis, and we generally don’t have a special name for it; we just celebrate both at the same time when they fall out that way.  For example, tomorrow night will be both Chanukah and Shabbat, but we don’t call it “Shabbukkah.” A couple of days later we’ll be celebrating both Chanukah and Rosh Chodesh, but we don’t call it “Roshukkah.” Why does the combination of celebrating both Chanukah and Thanksgiving, which happen to fall on the same day this year, require the name “Thanksgivukkah”? Is it too difficult to wish someone both a happy Chanukah and a happy Thanksgiving?  We greet people with multiple wishes like this all the time in the Jewish community. And if we really want to be lazy and give people combined good wishes, why not just “happy holidays” or “chagim sameiach”?

I’m also not a big fan of the name “Thanksgivukkah” because it makes Chanukah sound like a lesser holiday compared to Thanksgiving. Sure, more people probably celebrate Thanksgiving than celebrate Chanukah, but that shouldn’t be relevant. This is supposed to be the name given for what those of us who celebrate both holidays are celebrating. For those of us who celebrate both, many of us feel Chanukah is just as important as Thanksgiving, if not more.

But whatever we call it or don’t call it, the phenomenon of celebrating both Chanukah and Thanksgiving on the same day is a great opportunity to enhance both holidays. After all, the whole reason we celebrate Chanukah is to give thanks to God, and celebrating Thanksgiving on Chanukah can serve as a reminder to reflect on what we’re thankful for. Also, since many of us get days off for Thanksgiving that we don’t get for Chanukah, this year we can use those days off to celebrate Chanukah too.  On the other hand, Chanukah enhances Thanksgiving by reminding us of some of the specific things we have to be thankful for. After all, Chanukah celebrates the military victory of the Maccabees over the Greeks, and the whole reason they fought at all was that the Greeks refused to allow our Jewish ancestors the religious freedom to observe our Torah. So this year on Thanksgiving, we’re reminded that we should all be thankful to be in America, which gives us freedom of religion.

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish all of my readers both a happy Chanukah and a happy Thanksgiving (now that wasn’t so hard). Let’s enjoy and find meaning in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to celebrate these holidays together.

About the Author
Noah Aronin is a Modern Orthodox Jew who lives in Riverdale, NY with his wife and two sons. He earned MA degrees in Jewish Education and Jewish Communal Service from Towson University and has been serving the Jewish community professionally in both fields for more than ten years. Currently, Noah is a student at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School and Rabbinic Intern at Hofstra Hillel.
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