Thanksgiving and Hanukkah: Giving Thanks For The Fire That Burns In All of Us

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I am certainly not even close to catching up to the thousands of bloggers who are talking about this year’s first merging of two iconic American Holiday traditions since the late 1800’s – Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, also coined Thanksgivukkah, among other cutesy holiday sniglets.

Being both American and Jewish (at least by birth on both counts) and an Anthropologist with narcissistic tendencies, I am inclined to ponder the two traditions and what they signify both separately and as a joint effort.  Traditions are actually one of my favorite things as a general rule.  While I might not religiously observe most traditions I do observe them.  The reason: traditions and ritual are the same thing and rituals remind us that we are human.  They connect us in spite of our differences to remind us of our similarities and shared history.  The rituals and traditions that surround our holidays and celebrations remind us that this human experience is something we can make meaningful and work with to forward our spiritual ambitions.

Thanksgiving and Hanukkah both have a lot of baggage in that regard.  Both stem from religious persecution and a people at odds with their earthly environments who came together to commemorate our need to stick together and have faith in one another as well as the forces at play we don’t see.

I found this fun article on time.com about 5 things Thanksgiving and Hanukkah have in common  that gives some fun and factual background on these two very American traditions.  As both secular and religious traditions, both these rituals offer a unique window into how American as consumers like to “consume” our rituals – with food and family and faith and a fair amount of gratitude.  Not uncommon from most human traditions you would find just about anywhere else.

I am thankful for many things – from friends and family, to friends who are family to being lucky enough to have light in my life last as long as I have faith in it.  And I am ever faithful that as spiritual beings on this human journey,  humankind will continue to seek and embrace our common bonds and “be the change” we want to see.

There are, after all, many things to be thankful for and many lights that miraculously burn bright to warm us in spite of unfavorable conditions.  It’s just up to us to notice, to be thankful and to pass it on.

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