Hanukkah Meets Thanksgiving – What Do American Families Think?

Hanukkah Meets Thanksgiving – What Do American Families Think?

Jewish Holidays in a Box creates games for Jewish and interfaith familyDid you know that, according to some research, Hanukkah has now jumped ahead of Passover as the most celebrated Jewish holiday in North America?

And this year, with Hanukkah and Thanksgiving coming at the same time, we have an extra opportunity to jazz up our homes with the colors and flavors of the season. I’m planning a joyous mix of oranges and reds and golden yellows to honor both the harvest and the colors of Hanukkah flames.

For some families, though, this convergence is complicated. In a survey conducted by JewishHolidaysInABox.com, we learned that 31% of respondents are very excited about the possibilities; 53% think it will be OK; 16% have stronger concerns.

People reported being most excited about:

  • “Having Hanukkah with my whole extended family on Friday.”
  •  “Having the Hanukkah lights burning while we eat Thanksgiving dinner.”
  •  “Sharing Hanukkah with non-Jewish family.”
  • “Bringing the ideals of the two holidays together. It is a great teachable moment.”
  • “Eating latkes instead of mashed potatoes.”
  • “Spending time with my daughter in the kitchen blending cuisines.”
  • “Having latkes with cranberry sauce.”

Create this fun Happy Hanukkah Banner Others are most concerned about:

  •  “Not being able to get together with both sides of the family, as we usually spend Thanksgiving with one and Hanukkah with the other.”
  • “Hanukkah being overshadowed.”
  • “Not diluting either holiday.”
  • “We also celebrate Christmas, so we will probably get our tree that weekend, too.”
  • “Making sure the focus is not only about food and presents, but about Thanksgiving and family time.”
  • “Getting presents bought in time for early Hanukkah.”

One respondent nailed it when she answered that what “most excited” and “most concerned” her was the same: “Sharing my faith with our friends.”

For our family, I’m hoping to celebrate the festival-squared with a focus on having fun and drawing the youngest among us into the fray. Here’s my Thanksgivvukah vision:

  1. Sitting around a table with all generations, decorating a DIY Happy Hanukkah Banner with crayons, markers and glitter glue. To add a Thanksgiving touch, we will add pictures of turkeys, corn, maple leaves and other symbols of the season cut from magazines.
  2. Parading around the house – all kids and adults invited — playing musical instruments (maracas, tambourines, little drums) to the sound of one of our favorite Maccabeats’ songs, like Candlelight, cranked up really loud. The leader of the parade will carry a football.
  3. Snacking on the orange/red/yellow foods, like crackers, cheese, carrot sticks, and red grapes.
  4. Setting the dining room table with an orange tablecloth, napkins of orange/red/yellow (we happen to have these already!), mini-pumpkins, and golden gourds.  Down the center of the table, we’ll use eight shorter yellow and orange candles with 1 taller red one in the middle as the shamash (helper candle).
  5. Creating a Thanksgivvukah centerpiece – with the kids, of course! – mixing symbols of both holidays (e.g., Indian maize, dried fall leaves, dreidels, gelt, candles).

Hanukkah Bingo - the fun game for the whole family to play togetherWithout spending a lot of money, I believe that we can weave together the traditions of both holidays into a fun, new festival, without losing what we love about each.

For Hanukkah games for the whole family, check out our Hanukkah Games Box, Hanukkah Bingo Game, Hanukkah In a Box Family Fun Kit, “Celebrate Hanukkah: How to Light Up Your Holiday” e-guide, and “Happy Hanukkah Art & Activity Pak.”

Ellen Zimmerman, Jewish Holidays In A Box


About Ellen Zimmerman

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