Why wait until December when it’s cold and no one really wants to be outside to celebrate the new year? For Jews around the world, the new year begins Sunday at sundown, the start of the two-day holiday known as Rosh Hashanah.
Here’s a brief guide to the holiday.
What Is ‘Rosh Hashanah?’
The words actually mean “head of the year” and are used to mark the beginning of the new year. Rosh Hashanah is a two-day period that culminates with Yom Kippur, the day of atonement and the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.
That period is referred to as “The Days of Awe” and is focused on repentance and atonement.
In Judaism, Rosh Hashanah is considered the sixth day of “Creation,” the day that Adam and Eve were made. Because of their creation, it is considered the day that the potential of the universe was first recognized. Thus, it’s also considered the birthday of the universe.
When Is Rosh Hashanah?
It begins at sundown on Sunday, Sept. 29, and ends at sundown on Oct. 1.
What? It Begins And Ends At Sundown?
In Judaism, it’s not only the holidays that start at sundown but every day. In the Book of Genesis, it says that “it was evening and it was morning.”
So, Jews consider that to mean that the evening comes first and then morning and that’s how the days are marked. It’s something that has also taken on an added meaning that suggests things may seem dark at first, but there will be light and it will get better.
How Is It Celebrated?
Several ways. Most notably, Jews will spend a lot of time in a synagogue or temple praying, listening to the blowing of the shofar, and reflecting on the year gone by. Also, there is a traditional trip to a body of water where bread is thrown, symbolizing casting sins into the depths of the sea, as referenced in the Bible.
Shofar? Is That The Ram’s Horn That I’ve Heard About?
Yes. The blowing of the shofar — or ram’s horn — represents a call to atonement. It is symbolic of the passages in the Bible when Abraham is called to sacrifice his son, Isaac, At the last minute, God allows Abraham to sacrifice a ram instead.
Are There Special Foods?
As with most Jewish holidays, the answer is yes. In this case, the challah bread is round to represent the cycle of life. There is also a lot of honey: for dipping challah, dipping apples, all of which symbolizes hoping for a sweet new year.
Do People Wish Each Other A Happy New Year?
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Yes. The traditional greeting is “Shanah Tovah,” which means “good year.”