The holidays this year presents a unique situation for Jews and Christians everywhere, especially those in inter-faith families: Chrismukkah. This is a result of Hanukkah beginning on December 24th aka Christmas Eve, and ending on New Years Day. This has a lot of people confused about how Hanukkah works, and why it is timing is always changing and interfering with Christmas’ consistent schedule. You may even remember that in 2013 Hanukkah fell on Thanksgiving, turning it into ‘Thanksgivukkah’ for those celebrating both holidays. But, let me explain why this is happening.
The Jewish holidays are on the same day every year, the same day on the Jewish calendar that is. This calendar has a different number of days than the Gregorian calendar because it is based on lunar orbits, which are in coordination with the solar cycles. Simply put, our months are lunar and our years are solar. If the calendar was solely based on lunar orbits, the year would only be 354 days and cause the holidays to shift out of their appropriate season. Many Jewish holidays, including all three biblical feasts (Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot) are dependent on the agricultural seasons, which is why the calendar needs to be adjusted to fit the proper seasons.
This coordination of the two cycles leads to the solution of Jewish “leap years,” which entails inserting an extra month (yes, you read that right - a whole month) and makes up for all the lost days of the lunar orbits; turning our 12-month calendar into a 13-month calendar about every three years. Hence, there can be a significant change year-to-year in correlation with holidays on the Gregorian calendar.
Basically, this is all a complicated way of saying that Jewish holidays follow a separate calendar which causes occasional overlap with non-Jewish holidays. However, people have developed this idea of that the Jewish holidays are the equivalent of certain non-Jewish holidays because they typically occur around the same time. For example, many people associate certain holidays together (i.e. Hanukkah and Christmas and Passover and Easter), even though the holidays are very different in practice. For Jews, there is no “on time” for Jewish holidays because they are on the same day every year on the Jewish calendar (i.e. Hannukah always begins on the 25th of Kislev), just not on the standard calendar.
So, this year use the overlap of these two holidays to learn more about the holiday you don’t typically celebrate and indulge in new recipes, traditions, and celebrations.
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P.S. Next year Hanukkah will not overlap Christmas or New Years at all.
Interested in knowing the Gregorian Calendar dates for all upcoming Jewish Holidays in 2017? Click here