The Mathematics of the Holiday Collision

Hanukkah 2013 will be quite literally a once-in-a-lifetime event. That’s because the first night of Hanukkah, November 27, will fall the night before Thanksgiving. So the first day of Hanukkah will fall on Thanksgiving Day. And it won’t happen again until the year 79,811![1]

Thanksgiving was formally established by President Lincoln in 1863 as the last Thursday in November. This happy Hanukkah-Thanksgiving collision occurred once before, in 1888. In 1942 Thanksgiving was declared to be the fourth Thursday in November.

The Jewish calendar, which is lunar, is slowing going out of sync with the Gregorian calendar, which is solar. Because Thanksgiving is the fourth Thursday in November, the latest it can be is November 28. Hanukkah, which falls on November 28 this year, will progressively “shift” forward at the rate of four days every 1,000 years.

Assuming the Jewish calendar is never changed, Hanukkah will move slowly forward through the Gregorian calendar and loop back to where it is now. So we will have this unique holiday collision again … in 79,811.

Check your calendar for 79,811. If you have no plans that night, we’d like to invite you over for dinner.


[1]Some of You May Find this Interesting… by Jonathan Mizrahi
http://jonathanmizrahi.blogspot.com/2013/01/hanukkah-and-thanksgiving-once-in.html

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