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Justin Teitle of Bettendorf says his family's partying like it's 1999.

He's Jewish. His wife is Lutheran. Their two children are Jewish. And Thursday was the only time any of them will ever see Thanksgiving and the beginning of Hanukkah fall on the same day. The next time the two coincide will be 79,000 years. 

The rare holiday mashup has even its own name: Thanksgivukkah.

"We see it as a great chance for our kids to participate in something that isn't going to happen again, like New Year's Eve before the year 2000," Teitle said.

To get ready for the unique holiday, his children, Bennett, 6, and Lila, 9, drew pictures of a "menurkey," in which a menorah is shaped like a turkey, or vice versa.

His wife, Kristine, prepared cranberries and latkes, which are potato pancakes, for the day's feast. The rest of the fare was a mix of traditional foods of both holidays.

"She's a fantastic cook to begin with," he said, noting his wife did her own extensive research on how to make Jewish food from scratch.

Katie Franks of Bettendorf, a convert to Judaism, cooked four turkeys and lots of latkes as she prepared a blended holiday feast for 31 people.

"I'll do both mashed potatoes and latkes," she said beforehand. "Not everyone who's coming is Jewish."

A lot of food for Hanukkah is cooked in oil. Franks said the significance of that stems back to when the Maccabees, upon defeating the Greeks, rededicated a temple in Jerusalem. They only believed they had enough oil to burn one day. Miraculously, it burned for eight days.

Hanukkah, like all Jewish holidays, is celebrated after sundown. Lighting the menorah and spinning the dreidel are among family activities.

Hanukkah and Thanksgiving have much in common, two area rabbis said.

"Hanukkah is about thanking God for miracles," said Rabbi Shneur Cadaner, director of Chabad Lubavitch of the Quad-Cities, Davenport.

Rabbi Henry Karp of Temple Emanuel, Davenport, said blending the two holidays is an "easy fit."

Karp said American Pilgrims referred to the Biblical Jewish holiday of Sukkot when creating the first Thanksgiving. Both holidays are about giving thanks, he added.

"Hanukkah is all about religious freedom," Karp said. "That’s very much an American principle. It's the first amendment of the Constitution. Every Thanksgiving we're grateful to live in America and be able to worship as Jews."

Teitle said Hanukkah has more in common with Thanksgiving than with Christmas, which it is more often associated because it typically falls near the Christian celebration.

Though some of Teitle's Christian friends even confuse Hanukkah as "Jewish Christmas," he said it was never meant to be about gift giving but about giving to charity.

"It's probably not a bad thing it's falling a good distance from Christmas," he said. "When Hanukkah is not in the shadow of Christmas, when the two are separated, it gives us a chance to focus on them individually."

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