Serenity writes: This year Hanukkah falls on Thanksgiving for the first time since 1888. It won’t happen again until 70,000 + years from now. So this Thanksgivakkuh is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Hanukkah is a minor Jewish holiday. Although it is often compared to Christmas, the meaning is actually much more complementary to the meaning of Thanksgiving. Hanukkah commemorates the Maccabees who fought for religious freedom, and the miracle of the oil that burned in the temple for eight nights, when there was only oil enough for one. Thanksgiving commemorating the pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower in pursuit of religious freedom and the gratitude for that first bountiful harvest.
So the two holidays coinciding creates an opportunity to teach our children about reflecting on our blessings and the resources that we have, and also an opportunity to offer prayers or intention for love, peace and harmony in the world. In our family and child care program, the children will be preparing Pumpkin Latkes (latkes are a potato pancake fried in oil traditionally served during Hanukkah) and creating a homemade Menurkey (a turkey menorah, of course!). We will also be creating a Tree of Gratitude, each child creating a leaf that shows what they themselves are grateful for; this could easily be created as a menorah also.
My own children will be collecting food for a local food pantry, as they are also learning about the hunger in our world. They must learn that while we are grateful for our bounty, it is also our duty to share our bounty with those in need. If you are celebrating Hanukkah in your home, perhaps the older children would be willing to choose one of the eight nights of Hanukkah to select a charity and give a gift.
For those of you who are not Jewish, but would like to share the holiday with your children, this year creates an especially fun and memorable way to introduce the holiday, and it may help to distinguish the true meaning of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, from being misconstrued as “The Jewish Christmas.” This year Hanukkah begins at sundown on Wednesday night, 11/27/13.