Students combine Thanksgiving and Hanukkah traditions for “Thanksgivukkah” celebration

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By Elaine Hunt

This past Thursday, November 28, marked the convergence of Thanksgiving and the first night of Hanukkah in a holiday nicknamed “Thanksgivukkah.”

This is the first time Thanksgiving and Hanukkah have overlapped since 1888, and they won’t overlap again until 2070, according to chabad.org. Some University of Maryland Jewish students who celebrated both holidays said they put more emphasis on Thanksgiving because Hanukkah lasts longer.

Sophomore psychology major Noah Ferentz celebrated Thanksgivukkah at his aunt’s house in Pennsylvania, where he said his family traditionally celebrates Thanksgiving. His family lit candles for Hanukkah at sundown then ate a traditional Thanksgiving meal.

“Thanksgiving got more attention because Hanukkah is an eight day holiday and Thanksgiving is only a once-a-year deal,” said Ferentz. “Also Thanksgiving is a national holiday and it’s all about family togetherness while Hanukkah is not really about the family being together, and since we all got together as a family it made more sense to focus more on the ‘family oriented’ holiday.”

Some families took the opportunity to combine traditional Jewish foods with traditional Thanksgiving foods.

Freshman Business major Noa Lipton’s family friends brought homemade jelly doughnuts, a traditional Jewish dessert. Lipton’s family also served sweet potato pancakes as a side dish to the turkey meal. Ferentz ate gelt with his pumpkin pie. Sophomore psychology and hearing and speech sciences double major Shira Goldstein’s family made Thanksgiving latkes.

“It was definitely weird to have both holidays fall on the same day but it was really fun trying to work them both into one celebration,” said Lipton. “Thanksgiving is always celebrated more than Hanukkah in my house but we tried to work them in together.”

Sophomore biology major Eliza Zygmuntowicz said her family celebrated both holidays but did not really attempt to combine or interweave the two. Her family came to her house in New York City and ate a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. After, they lit candles and played dreidel.

“We did have latkes with leftovers the day after Thanksgiving.”

Because Thanksgiving was so late this year, it allowed students to be home with the families for Hanukkah, unlike previous years.

“I’m usually not home for Hanukkah because it is generally during school, so the fact that the two holidays fell at the same time was nice because I got to celebrate Hanukkah with my family as well as Thanksgiving,” said Goldstein.

The night before Thanksgiving, sophomore business major Asa Hecker went to a pre-Thanksgiving potluck with his high school friends and their families in Massachusetts. Not all of Hecker’s friends are Jewish, but a friend’s family brought a menorah to the celebration and lit the first candle of Hanukkah. Hecker’s family and other Jewish families sang the traditional Jewish blessings, and then translated them for the non-Jewish members of the group.

“I love seeing my family and friends so this is just wildly convenient,” said Hecker. “Hanukkah isn’t the most important holiday for Jews but it’s a happy one and getting to share it with my friends was so nice.”

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