This year, Thanksgiving Day coincides with the start of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. Suddenly, bingo! We have the menurkey (a combination of a turkey and a nine-branched menorah). We have recipes that feature both cuisines and we have greeting cards galore.
The two holidays came close in 1964, as I found out when I wrote The Ninth Day. Hanukkah started on the Sunday after Thanksgiving then. I hear-tell that the next time the two holidays mesh as well as they do in 2013 will be about 70,000 years from now. Really? That may be, but there are lots of instances when holidays to coincide. This happens when one holiday has a fixed date on the solar calendar and the other moves with a lunar or other calendar, or when both holidays move based on two different calendars. Not long ago, the holy month of Ramadan started at the same time as Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. Now that was a day to remember.
Calendars can be tricky. It was easy enough to figure out the start of Hanukkah in 1964 Berkeley, for The Ninth Day, thanks to a basic understanding of the Gregorian calendar, the Jewish calendar, and Google. Matters got murky for Hanukkah in 1099 Paris, when the calendar envisioned by the Roman emperor, Julius Caesar was used…sorta.
Holidays are not so tricky. They are times set aside among the diverse cultures on planet Earth for celebration or contemplation. Go on. Pick a holiday that’s part of your tradition in the coming months. Dig through the various calendar programs on the Web. Find out what someone else might be celebrating during the same week, or the same day. We’re all connected, thanks to an orbiting moon and a particular orbit around the sun.