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Tradition is a lot of what Thanksgiving is about. But what happens when two traditions collide? Like this year, creating such concotions as the ‘Menurkey.’ Commentator Beth Teitell explains.
Of all the things that the Pilgrims couldn’t foresee while celebrating that first Thanksgiving-Black Friday sales starting on Thursday; SpongeBob getting his own balloon in the Macy’s parade; gluten-free stuffing-we can safely add “Thanksgivukkah” to the list.
Thanks to Hanukkah’s habit of roaming the fall and winter calendar, this year the first day of the Jewish festival of lights lands squat on Thanksgiving. And America being America, the land of the hashtag and the merchandising tie-in, the holiday pile-up triggered a marketing frenzy.
The Jewish mother who channeled the term-while commuting on I-95 outside of Boston — quickly grabbed the Twitter handle, created a Facebook page and trademarked the word. Stephen Colbert, the Comedy Central host, faux-raged about “Thanksgiving under attack.” Buzzfeed, the social media site, declared Thanksgivukkah “the most spectacular day ever,” and showed pictures of a yarmulke decorated with a Pilgrim’s buckle, and a Manishewitz-brined turkey. Manischewitz itself launched a YouTube video starring a giant dreidel battling a giant turkey over rights to the day. Don’t even ask.
In New York City, a nine-year-old boy invented a turkey-shaped menorah called a Menurkey, and funded his idea with a Kickstarter campaign. That $50 item, along with an American Gothikkah poster that shows the man wearing a shtreimel, or fur hat, and holding a menorah instead of a pitchfork, sold so briskly on a hip Jewish website that its founder said it was like Christmas in July. Or, as the case may be, Hanukkah in November.
As it turns out, the holiday convergence has happened before, in the 1800s, although back then, the food trucks probably didn’t sell latkes with turkey gravy, and Soul Cycle and the SoHo Synagogue didn’t hold a “Hanukkah Thanks Spinning” fundraiser. Meanwhile, Jews and non-Jews have been having so much fun with the holiday that it’s a shame it won’t come around again for a while–79,043 years, according to one calculation. Mark your lunar calendar.