CLOSE
Original image
ThinkStock

Why is This The Last Time Hanukkah and Thanksgiving Will Occur on The Same Day?

Original image
ThinkStock

We measure time by the way things rotate. It takes one day for the Earth to spin one full rotation on its own axis. It takes a little less than 28 days for the moon to rotate once around the Earth. It takes a little more than 365 days for the Earth to go around the sun. It would be nice if all this rotating was perfectly synced up, but it isn’t, and since we can’t control the motions of the planets, we are stuck with a messy calendar system that needs a bit of adjusting now and then.

Leap years are one way we correct for mismatches. Having months of varying lengths is another. In the calendar we use, the months are only roughly inspired by moon cycles. If we measured months by the moon and the year by the sun, the seasons would start to drift and eventually the Fourth of July would be in the dead of winter.

The Hebrew calendar, used to determine the dates of Jewish holidays, follows the cycles of the moon more closely. Months are 29 or 30 days, but complicated adjustments are made, including the addition of an extra month every so often, in order to ensure that certain holidays show up in the correct season. Hanukkah is supposed to start on the 25th of Kislev, which after drift and adjustment, ends up falling between the end of November and the end of December. This year it’s on November 28th, the earliest date it can be, which also happens to be Thanksgiving.

The 25th of Kislev will fall on November 28th again, but not when November 28th is also Thanksgiving (fourth Thursday of the month). Also, there is a tiny difference in the way adjustments to align the seasons are made in the two calendars, so tiny that they only matter after they accumulate for a few hundred years. By the time enough years have passed to get to the point where Hanukkah would fall on a November 28th that was also Thanksgiving again, that tiny divergence will have pushed Hanukkah over the line to the next day. And there’s no going back to the earlier date. The earliest date for Hanukkah will slowly keep getting later...

...unless another big adjustment by decree is made, which is what has happened every couple thousand years in the history of calendar keeping. If Hanukkah and Thanksgiving coincide again, it won’t be according to the systems as they are in place now, but through our improvised efforts to keep up with the sloppy, syncopated spinning of the spheres.

If you want more specific details on the adjustments, here is a more in-depth explanation of the numbers.

Original image
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
arrow
Big Questions
Why Do Baseball Managers Wear Uniforms?
Original image
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Basketball and hockey coaches wear business suits on the sidelines. Football coaches wear team-branded shirts and jackets and often ill-fitting pleated khakis. Why are baseball managers the only guys who wear the same outfit as their players?

According to John Thorn, the official historian of Major League Baseball since 2011, it goes back to the earliest days of the game. Back then, the person known as the manager was the business manager: the guy who kept the books in order and the road trips on schedule. Meanwhile, the guy we call the manager today, the one who arranges the roster and decides when to pull a pitcher, was known as the captain. In addition to managing the team on the field, he was usually also on the team as a player. For many years, the “manager” wore a player’s uniform simply because he was a player. There were also a few captains who didn’t play for the team and stuck to making decisions in the dugout, and they usually wore suits.

With the passing of time, it became less common for the captain to play, and on most teams they took on strictly managerial roles. Instead of suits proliferating throughout America’s dugouts, though, non-playing captains largely hung on to the tradition of wearing a player's uniform. By the early to mid 20th century, wearing the uniform was the norm for managers, with a few notable exceptions. The Philadelphia Athletics’s Connie Mack and the Brooklyn Dodgers’s Burt Shotton continued to wear suits and ties to games long after it fell out of favor (though Shotton sometimes liked to layer a team jacket on top of his street clothes). Once those two retired, it’s been uniforms as far as the eye can see.

The adherence to the uniform among managers in the second half of the 20th century leads some people to think that MLB mandates it, but a look through the official major league rules [PDF] doesn’t turn up much on a manager’s dress. Rule 1.11(a) (1) says that “All players on a team shall wear uniforms identical in color, trim and style, and all players’ uniforms shall include minimal six-inch numbers on their backs" and rule 2.00 states that a coach is a "team member in uniform appointed by the manager to perform such duties as the manager may designate, such as but not limited to acting as base coach."

While Rule 2.00 gives a rundown of the manager’s role and some rules that apply to them, it doesn’t specify that they’re uniformed. Further down, Rule 3.15 says that "No person shall be allowed on the playing field during a game except players and coaches in uniform, managers, news photographers authorized by the home team, umpires, officers of the law in uniform and watchmen or other employees of the home club." Again, nothing about the managers being uniformed.

All that said, Rule 2.00 defines the bench or dugout as “the seating facilities reserved for players, substitutes and other team members in uniform when they are not actively engaged on the playing field," and makes no exceptions for managers or anyone else. While the managers’ duds are never addressed anywhere else, this definition does seem to necessitate, in a roundabout way, that managers wear a uniform—at least if they want to have access to the dugout. And, really, where else would they sit?

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

Original image
iStock
arrow
Big Questions
How Long Could a Person Survive With an Unlimited Supply of Water, But No Food at All?
Original image
iStock

How long could a person survive if he had unlimited supply of water, but no food at all?

Richard Lee Fulgham:

I happen to know the answer because I have studied starvation, its course, and its utility in committing a painless suicide. (No, I’m not suicidal.)

A healthy human being can live approximately 45 to 65 days without food of any kind, so long as he or she keeps hydrated.

You could survive without any severe symptoms [for] about 30 to 35 days, but after that you would probably experience skin rashes, diarrhea, and of course substantial weight loss.

The body—as you must know—begins eating itself, beginning with adipose tissue (i.e. fat) and next the muscle tissue.

Google Mahatma Gandhi, who starved himself almost to death during 14 voluntary hunger strikes to bring attention to India’s independence movement.

Strangely, there is much evidence that starvation is a painless way to die. In fact, you experience a wonderful euphoria when the body realizes it is about to die. Whether this is a divine gift or merely secretions of the brain is not known.

Of course, the picture is not so pretty for all reports. Some victims of starvation have experienced extreme irritability, unbearably itchy skin rashes, unceasing diarrhea, painful swallowing, and edema.

In most cases, death comes when the organs begin to shut down after six to nine weeks. Usually the heart simply stops.

(Here is a detailed medical report of the longest known fast: 382 days.)

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios