The giant menorah outside The Lot at Liberty Station. Photo by Stacy Keck
The giant menorah outside The Lot at Liberty Station. Photo by Stacy Keck

Christians and Jews in San Diego will celebrate winter traditions beginning Saturday because of a rare alignment of religious holidays.

Christmas Eve and the beginning of the eight-day holiday of Hanukkah overlap this year for the first time since 1978.

Many Christians begin their religious observance of the birth of Jesus Christ on Christmas Eve. Hanukkah begins at sundown.

The timing of Hanukkah varies because it’s based on the 354-day Hebrew calendar. Experts say the celebration of the second century lighting of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem will fall more in the December-January time period in the future, instead of the customary November and December, so overlaps could become more common.

Services are scheduled throughout the city and county. Just a few of them are:

  • 10 a.m., Shabbat service, Congregation Beth Israel, 9001 Towne Centre Drive, University City
  • 4 p.m., Roman Catholic Christmas Eve Mass, St. Joseph Cathedral, 1535 Third Avenue in downtown San Diego, with a second service at 6 p.m., and a bilingual service at 10 p.m.
  • 5 p.m., a family-oriented Christmas Eve service at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral, 2728 Sixth Avenue in downtown San Diego, with a retelling of the nativity story. A Christmas Eve Mass is scheduled for 10 p.m.

Also Saturday, Father Joe’s Villages, 1501 Imperial Ave., will serve a holiday meal to nearly 700 homeless people supported by the organization, and around 90 volunteers are set to help out.

The 22nd annual Christmas Extravaganza will begin at 4 p.m. in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. Organizers of the event will provide gifts to more than 5,000 attendees, including clothing, household goods, groceries and toys.

A menorah will be lit outside The Lot in Liberty Station at 8 p.m. following two hours of ice skating to traditional Hanukkah music. Jelly doughnuts, a Jewish holiday tradition, will be served.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.