Time to get your menurkey out so you can celebrate that great holiday known as Thanksgivukkah.
Wait a minute. What language am I speaking?
There’s a new holiday formula this year with its own vocabulary: Thanksgiving + Hanukkah = THANKSGIVUKKAH. And it won’t happen again for 70,000 years, so let’s party like it’s a once-in-many-lifetimes celebration!
The convergence of two holidays of religious freedom also happens to be the convergence of two supersized food holidays. The event, on the first day/second night of Hanukkah, promises to be an orgy of flavors—pumpkin, turkey, squash, cranberries and the whole cast of Thanksgiving spices sharing the over-burdened table with the annual excuse to worship fried foods without the guilt.
It’s a holiday made in foodie heaven.
Thanksgivukkah is also a perfect opportunity to connect with our own traditions, both religious and secular, and to literally bring to the table other people, traditions and flavors to celebrate side by side. People of different faiths and backgrounds coming together. What could be more appropriate for both holidays?
An added bonus to Thanksgivukkah: no one has to choose to be together with their family for either Thanksgiving or Hanukkah, often a dilemma when the two holidays fall close to each other, but not close enough. This is a holiday tailor-made for grandparents.
Hosting Your First Thanksgivukkah
Are you worried? Relax. It’s everyone’s first (and last) Thanksgivukkah. No one’s ever done this before, so who’s to judge?! Just remember, there are many ways to express your thanks for our many freedoms and the abundance in our lives. Be creative! Think interactive! Have fun! Here are just a few ideas to get you started.
- Be participatory…and save yourself a lot of work. Ask everyone to bring a favorite dish that makes their Hanukkah or Thanksgiving special. Before diving in for tastes, ask each person to say a few words about their dish—what makes it special, where it came from, how long they’ve been eating it. Having done this at my holiday table, I know it’s bound to get laughs along with some tears…a perfect combination for bringing together strangers including those among your own family.
- Play with recipes. At JFE, we certainly are! From “50 ways to have your latke” to frying everything in sight and adding cranberries, pumpkin and sweet potatoes to every Hanukkah dish you ever made, it’s all good. And we’re here to help. Check out our Recipe Collection for starters, and we’ve only just begun with new recipes going up all the time.
- Decorate. Sure, you can find lots of stuff online and order away. Or…you can have a play date with yourself, your children, your friends…and be do-it-yourself creative. Pile up the gourds, mini-pumpkins and dreidels on your holiday table. Fill that horn-of-plenty with yummy Hanukkah gelt and mini-deidels. Make some small turkey cut-outs or find some at the crafts store (where I found some inexpensive and colorful felt ones) attach a bunch to your menorahs and voilà! You have created your very own menurkey with having to wait for the UPS delivery.Go outside and find a large twig or small branch with several “arms.” Spray paint it or leave it au natural. Stick it in a pot with some dirt or rocks and put it on your holiday table. No, that’s not it. Now cut out some turkeys, leaves and dreidels from colored paper (or go to your local crafts store to find some already done). Punch a hole in each and tie a loop of string, ribbon or yarn. If you’re desperate, you can even use some of those little twisty ties from the grocery story we all throw into our kitchen drawers. When your guests arrive, they write something they are thankful for on one of the colorful shapes and hang it on the branch in the middle of the table. Look! It’s now a beautiful and meaningful centerpiece! This can turn into a special blessing before the meal by waiting to hang shapes until everyone is seated. Then each person reads what they wrote, hangs it on the tree and dinner is served with everyone feeling the love.
The possibilities are many, even really simple ones like using only orange, brown and yellow candles in your menurkey on November 28.
“Tov” being Hebrew for good, and “gobble” being the universal language of the Thanksgiving bird (as well as the verb for eating said animal), it’s time to fry up that bird, turn on the football, spin the dreidel and have a “Gobble tov!”