This year, for the first time since the 19th century, the first day of Hanukkah converges with Thanksgiving.
The Jewish Festival of Lights, an eight-day commemoration of the rededication of the Temple by the Maccabees after their victory over the Syrians, begins at sundown tonight.
Already, though, some have begun to celebrate the unusual confluence of holidays. More than 600 children and other people participated in Hanukkah Happenings Sunday in a secular setting at Westfield Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills.
The event was sponsored in partnership with JCC Chicago, JUF Young Families and PJ Library. It featured crafts, dreidel games, a service project, a blue inflatable chair for family photos, and music and dancing with kid rock musician Jeanie B!
"Dozens of children spinning like dreidels in the middle of the mall; what a sight to see," Lawrence LeVine, JCC Chicago manager of Family Programs, said in a news release.
The last time the first day of Hanukkah coincided with Thanksgiving was Nov. 29, 1888. There was one close call since then, when Thanksgiving fell on Hanukkah eve, Nov. 28, 1918, according to the website chabad.org.
Will Hanukkah and Thanksgiving ever merge again?
Chabad.org said it could happen in 2070 and 2165. But because the Gregorian calendar and the Jewish calendar are "slowly drifting in relation to the actual solar year -- but at different rates," Hanukkah "would have completely drifted out of November -- unless one of these calendars (or Thanksgiving) is changed," according to the site.
For this year, though, another public forum for kids comes Wednesday through Sunday with Chanukah Family Funland in the Buffalo Grove Town Center, 144 McHenry Road.
In its third year, the event includes themed carnival games, fun and educational arts and crafts, face-painting, a family portrait studio, giveaways and contests. The event is sponsored by Suburban Alliance of Jewish Education.
For information, go to chanukahfamilyfunland.com, call (224) 534-9613 or email