Jewish Holy Days May 2, 2012 16:12:19 GMT
Post by sparklekaz on May 2, 2012 16:12:19 GMT
Shabbat: The Sabbath
Many people know that the Sabbath is Saturday, the day of the week on which Jews are forbidden to work. From the Jewish perspective, the Sabbath is not about rules but about joyful celebration and rest.
Hanukkah: The Festival of Lights
Hanukkah (also spelled Chanukah) is probably the Jewish holiday that non-Jews are most familiar with, due to its coincidental proximity to Christmas. It is not, however, the "Jewish Christmas" - it historically predates Christmas and is an entirely different celebration.
Passover is a spring holiday commemorating the Exodus - the liberation of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt in the time of Moses (circa 13th century BCE). Its observances, most of which are instituted in chapters 12 to 15 of the book of Exodus, include special dietary restrictions ("Kosher of Passover") and a special meal.
Purim is a joyful spring holiday that features a festive meal, gift-giving, costumes, noisemakers in the synagogue, and required drunkenness. It is sometimes known to non-Jews as "the Jewish Mardi Gras" or "the Jewish Halloween."
Rosh Hashanah: Jewish New Year
Rosh Hashanah means "head of the year" and is commonly known as the Jewish New Year. It is the day on which the year number changes, but unlike secular New Year celebrations, Rosh Hashanah is a solemn and holy time. It occurs on the first and second days of Tishri, which falls in September or October.
Sukkot: Festival of Booths
Sukkoth is known by several names: the "Festival of the Ingathering" (Khag ha-Asif), the "Festival of Booths" (Khag ha-Sukkot); "The Festival" (Khag), and the "Season of Rejoicing" (Zeman Simkhateinu). FThe Festival of Sukkot begins on Tishri 15, the fifth day after Yom Kippur. It is quite a drastic transition, from one of the most solemn holidays in our year to one of the most joyous.
Sukkot is so unreservedly joyful that it is commonly referred to in Jewish prayer and literature as Z'man Simchateinu Z'mn Simchateinu (in Hebrew), the Season of our Rejoicing.
Sukkot is the last of the Shalosh R'galim (three pilgrimage festivals). Like Passover and Shavu'ot, Sukkot has a dual significance: historical and agricultural. Historically, Sukkot commemorates the forty-year period during which the children of Israel were wandering in the desert, living in temporary shelters. Agriculturally, Sukkot is a harvest festival and is sometimes referred to as Chag Ha-Asif Chag Ha-Asif (in Hebrew), the Festival of Ingathering.
Tu B'Shevat, or the "15th of Shevat," is the New Year for Trees. It is the day chosen to count the age of a newly-planted tree for the purposes of obeying a Levitical law. Over the years, the holiday has also developed into a day for celebrating (and enjoying) the fruit of the earth and focusing on care of the environment.
Yom Kippur: The Days of Awe
Yom Kippur, celebrated on the 10th day of Tishri, is the most important and solemn of Jewish holidays. Yom Kippur is the occasion on which otherwise nonobservant Jews are most likely to attend synagogue, refrain from work, or fast. The Days of Awe are the 10 days from the beginning of Rosh Hashanah to the end of Yom Kippur. This important period, which occurs in the autumn, is devoted to introspection, repentance, and atonement for sin.