The words “holiday season” usually conjure up notions of Christmas and Hanukkah, decorated trees and candle-lit menorahs, because these two celebrations usually come at about the same time during December. But this year is different, because for the first time ever — maybe — Hanukkah is on the same day as Thanksgiving. And it won’t happen again until the year 79811 — maybe.
I say maybe because Jewish holidays always begin at sundown the night before, and so Hanukkah actually begins on Wednesday, the night before Thanksgiving.
Also, in 1939 President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued a proclamation changing the the day we celebrate Thanksgiving from the last Thursday to the 4th Thursday. So if you consider that, then Hanukkah and Thanksgiving actually did fall on the same day back in in 1888.
There’s more, much more to this story, including the usual political nonsense that happens when a president of one party says something, does something or is eager to try something and the other party doesn’t like it. In 1939, for example, one Republican (Tom Taggart of Atlantic City) was so incensed by FDR’s proclamation that he referred to Thanksgiving as “Franksgiving.”
Btw, in case you watch Boardwalk Empire, you might like to know that Taggart was a one-time favorite of Enoch L. “Nocky” Johnson, (the GOP party leader on whom Nucky Thompson is based).
But all of this amusing stuff aside, the question for the actual celebration is:
"what do we eat?"
With two holidays overlapping (it’s being called “Thanksgivukkah”), there’s a lot of cooking involved. And a lot depends on when families will be getting together — Wednesday night for Hanukkah and Thursday for Thanksgiving? Only on Thursday?
Because Thanksgiving is a meat meal; Hanukkah is typically dairy and for folks who keep kosher, you don’t mix the two.
Thanksgiving usually involves a roasted turkey, cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes; Hanukkah is potato latke time plus anything fried.
My first thought: sweet potato latkes, stuffed with cranberries. Takes care of two Thanksgiving essentials and delivers it in a form familiar for Hanukkah. Suitable for a meat meal.
I tried them out to see if this was something we could sink our teeth into this year and the answer was a resounding “yes” so this is one of our “Thanksgivukkuh” recipes this year.
Sweet Potato Latkes/Pancakes with Cranberries
3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and finely shredded
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon grated fresh orange peel
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs
Vegetable oil for frying
Shred the potatoes in a food processor. Squeeze the shreds to remove as much liquid as possible. Place the potatoes in a large bowl. Chop the cranberries into small pieces. Add to the potatoes and toss to distribute the ingredients. Stir in the flour, orange peel, salt, ginger, cinnamon and baking powder and toss to distribute the ingredients evenly. Add the eggs and blend them in thoroughly. Heat about 1/8 inch vegetable oil in a saute pan. Form portions of the mixture into pancakes about 3-inches in diameter and 1/4-inch thick. Fry the pancakes in batches over medium-high heat for 2–3 minutes per side or until golden brown and crispy. Drain on paper towels. Makes about 20