The first night of Hanukkah this year coincides with Christmas Eve, leaving some people referring to the mash-up of holidays as “Christmukkah.”
Because the Jewish holidays follow a lunar calendar, the civil calendar has them falling on different dates each year.
“We’re all celebrating together,” observed Rabbi James Glazier of Temple Sinai in South Burlington, Vermont.
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This type of overlap is not unprecedented. In 1978, the first night of Hanukkah fell on Christmas Eve, and in 2005, the first night of Hanukkah fell on Christmas Day.
“They’re holidays about life and renewal at the time of year it’s the darkest and the coldest,” Rabbi Glazier said, discussing an area of commonality between Christmas and Hanukkah. “And both holidays remind us that there is hope to come.”
In 2013, a rarer alignment of holidays occurred when Thanksgiving and Hanukkah coincided. Many people nicknamed that dual celebration as “Thanksgivukkah.”
“I think it’s a wonderful thing,” said Father Pat Forman of the St. John Vianney Catholic Parish in South Burlington.
Forman said “Christmukkah” can serve as a good reminder to maintain friendships with neighbors.
“There’s no denying that between Jews and Christians, there have been very rough spots—very hurtful spots, historically,” the parish priest told necn. “But if we can see now, over time, this coming together, praying for one another, being able to support one another—what a beautiful healing that is.”
In another quirk, this Hanukkah celebration actually stretches into 2017. The last night of Hanukkah will be New Year’s Day.