I come from the wee corner of the Green Island not
known for its integration and cultural togetherness. So I can only turn green with
envy observing the preparations for a once-in-a-lifetime event about to be celebrated across this much larger island.
Next week is Thanksgiving, that most sacred of secular
holidays in America, when the current natives, no matter their
religion, commemorate the dinner enjoyed by the settlers and
the then Native Americans after the pilgrims’ first successful harvest.
Thanksgiving is always observed on the last Thursday in
November. But what makes this year’s holiday so unique is that November 28 is
also the first full day of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, the Festival of
Never slow to come up with new names for cultural “mash-ups”
year’s festivities have swiftly been dubbed Thanksgivukkah. And given both celebrations
focus heavily on eating, not surprisingly there’s no shortage of extra-special,
cross-cultural delicacies on offer such as turkey-shaped challah bread, sweet
potato latkes and pumpkin spice donuts.
One of my favourite collaborations is the menurkey
brain-child of an actual child, who thought up the idea of combining the Hanukkah menorah, the 9-branched candlestick integral to the
Festival of Lights celebrations, with - you guessed it - the turkey.
I’ve seen various versions of when Thanksgivukkah was last celebrated and when it will next appear on the (two) calendar(s). But given the most recent past occurrences are put in the late 1800s and those in the future plotted around the 78,000s (yes, you read correctly), I think it is fair to call this year's joint festivities a once-in-a-lifetime event.
And while not quite once-in-a-lifetime, next week’s holiday
is also notable in that it is one of the latest Thanksgivings possible, falling
on the 28th. This has less of an impact on the big day itself than
on the even bigger day after that – Black Friday.
This, as you may well know,
marks the start of flash sales, lasting up to 72 hours, designed to kick start
the present-buying bonanza ahead of Christmas. Except that this year, the late
Thanksgiving has robbed retailers of 6 potential days of revenue, making it the
shortest pre-Christmas run-up in 11 years. The result is an Inbox inundated
daily with sneak peaks, hush-hush previews, Countdown to Black Friday daily
deals and the outright blatant “Black Friday starts this Monday”.
I'm a little relieved however the earlier start to the Black Friday activities doesn't seem to have extended to the associated "Blackout" Wednesday goings-on.
The latter refers to the night before Thanksgiving when everyone home for the big day hits the local bars, figuratively that is (usually). Here in Chirish-land, Blackout Wednesday is apparently a bigger party night than New Year's and even St Patrick's Day. From Turkey Crawls to Very Special Black Wednesday goth nights, the options for revelers are endless - or at least until they have to turn up for the turkey dinner itself. The down-side is that Black Wednesday is rapidly becoming the biggest night of the year for drink-driving arrests and incidents, not only in Chicago but nationwide.
So on the eve of this extraordinary cross-cultural family holiday, I'd like to add my own humble wish - don't be a turkey and leave the mash-ups to the sweet potatoes. Happy Thanks-give-up-car!