While Rosh Hashanah is a time for reflection and repentance, it’s also a time for celebrating the upcoming year. We can think of no better time to take a closer look at the true meaning of this important Jewish holiday as we look ahead. Let’s get the “Jewish New Year” off to a strong start by counting down several interesting Rosh Hashana-related facts.
1. Rosh Hashana follows the Jewish calendar.
While most of us think of the solar calendar when discussions turn to New Year’s, Rosh Hashana follows the Jewish calendar. Rather than being based on the earth’s 365-day rotation around the sun, it takes two other astronomical phenomena into account, as well: the daily turning of the earth on its axis and the monthly revolution of the moon around the earth. Factoring the Talmud’s assertion that the world was created on the first day of Tishrei, the seventh Jewish month, and the timing of Rosh Hashana — which typically falls in late September or early October — makes perfect sense.
2. It’s a time of forgiveness.
Embracing the year ahead also means moving on from the past year’s wrongdoings. Enter the sounding of the shofar, the holiday’s most predominant mitzvah. When this ancient horn made from a ram is sounded during religious ceremonies, it calls worshippers to repent.
Jewish people also take part in Tashlikh, which involves walking into a flowing body of water while emptying their pockets as an expression of “casting off” their sins. Even new haircuts and clothing are symbolic at this time of year!
3. It’s about more than having a “Happy New Year.”
When revelers greet each other every December 31, “Happy New Year” is a festive, oft-heard salutation. Jews, meanwhile, wish each other “L’shanah Tovah,” which many people mistakenly translate to its equivalent. So what do these words mean? They wish for not a happy year, but for a good one. This means more than just seeking frivolity, but also achieving purpose and finding true fulfillment.
4. It Commences the High Holy Days.
With so much at stake (see #3), it follows that maximizing intentions for the year ahead would call for more than a single day. In fact, Rosh Hashanah kicks off 10 days of prayer, reflection, and self-examination — all leading up to Yom Kippur.
5. The words “Rosh Hashanah” never appear in the Bible in reference to the holiday.
Instead, Rosh Hashanah, which is first introduced in Leviticus, is referred to as both Yom Ha-Zakkiron, aka, the “Day of Remembrance” and Yom Teruah, AKA the “day of the sounding of the shofar.”
5. Apples and honey are more than delicious.
Apples and honey are tasty, but they mean much more than that on Rosh Hashana. To Jewish people, they symbolize hopes for a sweet and joyous year ahead.
6. Food is a big part of the holiday.
Apples and honey are far from the only foods used to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, however. From challah bread symbolizing the cycle of life and pomegranate seeds reflecting the good deeds, the foods eaten during Rosh Hashanah are rich in meaning.
Additionally, because Rosh Hashanah is an occasion for calling family members together, there is usually a Rosh Hashanah feast, or “Seudat Yom Tov.”
While the “Jewish New Year” is very different than what comes to mind for most Americans when they think of the turning of the calendar each year, it’s also similar in its overarching theme. In saying goodbye to the past year and hello to the new one, it’s the perfect time for clean slates, new beginnings, and all of the promise that comes with a fresh start. Can gourmet food delivery lighten your load in order to help you focus on the Jewish holidays and their true meanings? Shop foods today to get started on planning your next Jewish feast.