Hanukkah begins on Christmas Day this year

This Christmas, Gerry and Rachael Coakley plan to spend the day with his parents. They'll attend Roman Catholic Mass, open presents around his folks' tree and join them for &to=http://english.pravda.ru/society/2001/12/25/24368.html' target=_blank>Christmas dinner.

But before the evening meal, the couple will observe one more holiday ritual that they normally would follow in their own home: They'll light a menorah for &to=http://english.pravda.ru/world/2000/12/22/1613.html' target=_blank>Hanukkah.

The Coakleys are among the many intermarried couples trying to make the best of a rare and uncomfortable coincidence on this year's religious calendar. Hanukkah, the Jewish festival celebrated by lighting candles on eight consecutive nights, begins on Christmas Day.

"When Hanukkah doesn't fall close to Christmas, they become more of a separate holiday for each partner," said Gerry Coakley, who is Catholic yet also has joined a synagogue with his wife. "But I think this year, when they're both on the same day, it gives us a chance to open up some dialogue between my family and us" about how the couple tries to honor each other's faith.

It is not unusual for Christmas and Hanukkah to occur within days of each other or to overlap. But Edmund Case, president of Interfaithfamily.com, said he researched the dates and found the start of Hanukkah has fallen on Christmas Day only four times in the last 100 years.

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