About Jewish Holidays

About Jewish Holidays

Posted by Yevgeni Kuritski on 2nd Mar 2014

The many holidays that the Jewish community celebrates year round are very much the part of Jewish religion.  The holidays have both religious and cultural significance. Jewish holidays are full of rituals and Jews, as they stay very rooted to their culture, observe the holidays very solemnly.

Jewish holidays can be categorized as major, minor and state recognized. Since Jewish days begin with sunrise and end with sunset all festivals begin on the evening before the specified date. The festivity ends with the sundown on the day mentioned in calendar. Some of these holidays are Biblicaly recognized but some were added as Jewish culture enriched itself from its surrounding.

Jewish festivals are full of rituals. There are rules regarding working on the days of festivities, like – working isn’t permitted on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, as well as on the second days of Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret, Simchat Torah, Shavu’ot etc. The list is long. All types of work and vocations are prohibited on Shabbat. You may consult the Jewish orthodox calendar to know more.

Observing extra days of holidays

Sometimes holidays have more days than specified in the Bible. This has an interesting story behind it. In ancient time when Jewish calendar used to be a lunar calendar each month begun with a new moon. Normally, words were sent out to tell people about the beginning of the new month as new moon approached. But to people living in faraway places and hinterlands the words couldn’t reach in time always. As a result, they adopted the practice of observing the holidays on both possible days. The practice of celebrating extra days still continued in the modern era and even with the adoption of scientific calendar.

Below we have discussed about some of the most popular Jewish holidays and their significance in Jewish community.

Rosh Hashanah: Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the New Year for the Jews. It is traditionally observed on the first and second days of Tishri. The words exactly mean head of the year or beginning and it is officially the beginning of a Jewish new year.

The day begins with introspection and atonement, when the Jews look back at the mistakes of the past year and repent for those. They also make the promise to make a new beginning. Unlike boisterous New Year celebrations that are most common in most communities worldwide, Rosh Hashanah is a more solemn observation.

Symbolic food of the Jewish holiday Rosh HaSha...

Symbolic food of the Jewish holiday Rosh HaShana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a part of observation a shofar, which is a musical instrument made out of a ram’s horn, is blown. People gather at the synagogue to listen to the sound of the shofar as it’s regarded auspicious.

Yom Kippur: Yom Kippur is regarded as the holiest day of the year when Jews spend the day in atonement and ask for forgiveness from the God. It is said to be the day when you are closest to the God. Requesting and receiving honey cake is an important ritual performed during the day to remind us that we all recipients in the God’s world. Feast is an important part of the celebration and the day is said to complete the Sabbath. No Jew will work on this day.

Sukkot: Sukkot begins on the fifth day after Yom Kippur. During the great Exodus when the Jews traversed the perilous Sinai Desert the cloud of glory surrounded them and protected them from all evils. Ever since Jews remember the event and offer their humble thanks for God’s grace by staying in a thatched roof hut for seven days.