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Good Question: Why Will Hanukkah And Thanksgiving Overlap This Year?

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(credit: CBS) Heather Brown
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – For the first time since 1888, the first day of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving will overlap. Experts say that might not happen again until 79,811.

So, how did two holidays fall on the same date?

To celebrate the very rare “Thanksgivukkah,” people have created T-shirts, cards, songs and even a combination of the menorah and turkey – the “menurkey.”

Hanukkah always falls on the same date on the Hebrew calendar – the 25th day of the month of Kislev.

“Judaism is on a lunar/solar calendar, so the months are determined according to the phases of the lunar calendar and the years by the sun,” said Dr. Bill McDonough, professor of theology at St. Catherine University.

In the standard calendar, based on the sun, Nov. 28 is the earliest Hanukkah can be.

“It’s kind of bizarre,” said Wendy Kaufman of St. Louis Park. “You have to get your gifts mailed a lot earlier.”

Thanksgiving is always on the fourth Thursday of November. President Franklin Roosevelt moved it there from the last Thursday in November during the Great Depression because he thought it would be good for the economy.

Jonathan Mizrahi, a Jewish-American physicist interested in this topic calculated the next time this Thankgivukkah phenomenon would happen. And it’s in 77,798 years. That long time span is because the Jewish calendar is drifting apart from the solar calendar.

Hanukkah always starts at sundown before the first day of the holiday. Mathematicians have found Hanukkah Eve will fall on Thanksgiving in 2070 and 2165, so people will light their first candles on Thanksgiving in those years.

“I think the kids are excited,” said Ellen Kleinbaum. “We’ll probably celebrate Hanukkah longer than normal because we can’t celebrate it all in one weekend. I think it’ll be great.”

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