Another year has come, which means it’s time to start planning for this year’s festivities! If you celebrate the Jewish holidays, you have quite a few celebrations coming up for which you’ll want to think about and plan. Let’s take a look at some of the big ones this year and how you can celebrate them.
Purim is one of the first holidays of the year (according to the Western calendar) so we’ll start here. This is the celebration of the Jewish victory over Haman, who had plotted to kill the Jews in Persia. During this holiday, people bake hamantaschen (stuffed cookies formed to look like Haman’s hat) and dress up. The costumes are a tribute to the story: just like how God and the Jews masked their intentions then, so do you now at Purim.
A Purim party often involves music, long meals, and the reading of the Purim story. You will also be expected to give a gift of food to a friend and donations to the poor. In recent years, Purim parties have become themed, like “Purim in the Shtetl,” and guests can dress according to the theme. If you’re looking to throw an awesome bash, you’ll want to check out Purim party entertainment in Brooklyn and grab some Kosher cotton candy for you and your guests.
Rosh Hashanah, which means “first of the year,” marks the beginning of the Jewish year. It takes place in the fall and is the first of the High Holidays. Just like with the American new year, Rosh Hashanah is a time to reflect on your year and look towards the future. Also like the American new year, this holiday is typically taken off from work and you might spend the day in synagogue.
You also might observe two other traditional practices: eating apples with honey and Tashlikh. The apples dipped in honey are meant to symbolize the sweet new year you hope to have. Tashlikh, or “casting off,” is when you empty your pockets into a stream or river (you might first fill your pockets with breadcrumbs) and it symbolizes casting off your sins. Celebrating Rosh Hashanah involves reflecting on your past mistakes and setting intentions for the new year. Maybe this year you’d like to buy a house, so spend some time after Rosh Hashanah researching mortgage services.
Sukkot, the Feast of Booths or Tabernacles, also occurs in the fall. This holiday is a commemoration of the 40 years the Jewish people spent wandering the desert and living in makeshift shelters. This is celebrated by building and staying in a makeshift shelter, or sukkah, which makes this a great holiday for families. There are few things children love more than building forts, after all.
The sukkah must have at least two and a half walls (which was determined by the Hebrew letters that construct the word) and the roof must be made of sekhakh, which includes any natural materials, like branches or grass. After building the sukkah, it’s customary to decorate it. In America, it’s become common to decorate with dried squash or corn, since the holiday is close in proximity to Thanksgiving. It is also common to decorate with pictures drawn by children. Celebrating Sukkot with your family is a wonderful way to commemorate Jewish history and have fun doing so.
This year, celebrate the Jewish holidays your way and have a little fun. Create the perfect holidays with your family and friends and you will remember these events for years to come.
Image Credits: Jewish Holidays from Maglara/Shutterstock