Rosh Hashanah is a religious festival which literally means “Head of the New Year.” This festival marks the beginning of the Jewish New Year, as well as the start of a 10 day period of prayer, self-examination and repentance. For people who practice Judaism, it also marks the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve.
The Jewish Year
Rosh Hashanah is celebrated for two days, beginning in the Hebrew month of Tishrei. Because of the difference between the solar and lunar calendar, the occasion doesn’t fall on a static date each year, but usually happens in September or October in the secular calendar.
This year (2016), Rosh Hashanah will start the evening of October 2 and will end the evening of October 4.
Rosh Hashanah Customs and Symbols
Rosh Hashanah is also known as the anniversary of man’s first sin and his repentance. It serves as the first of the “Ten Days of Repentance” which ends with the religious observance of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
Some of the customs that take place during Rosh Hashanah include:
- Sounding the shofar, which represents the trumpet blast of the people’s coronation of their king
- Eating a round challah, which symbolizes the circle of life
- Tasting apples and honey to represent a sweet New Year
Rosh Hashanah reflects both happiness and humility, and emphasizes the special relationship between G-d and humanity. During this special holiday, it is custom to extend wishes and blessings between one another for a good year. The words “Leshanah tovah tikateiv veteichateim” are spoken, which translates “May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.” Then, those who celebrate Rosh Hashanah say Tashlich, a special prayer which is said near a body of water.
Preparation for Rosh Hashanah
The preparations for the High Holidays (including Rosh Hashanah) begin a full month before the actual Rosh Hashanah. A full Hebrew month of Elul is dedicated to the preparation of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
The holiday culminates in Rosh Hashanah Eve Meal. The different components of the menu include:
- Kiddush prayer ceremony – before starting the Rosh Hashanah meal, a ceremony of prayer is performed over wine by the head of Jewish household
- New fruit – a new fruit (a seasonal fruit which hasn’t been tasted since being in season), usually an apple, is presented on the table on the second night of Rosh Hashanah
- Challah – challah is a Jewish braided bread usually baked in a braided oval shape. For Rosh Hashanah the challah is baked in a spiralized round shape.
- Symbolic Foods – foods including a sweet apple dipped in honey, brisket, kugel, and pomegranate that symbolize the year that is wished to have
- Nothing sour or tart, because it is customary instead to focus on sweet foods to complement the desire to have a sweet year
Celebrate the New Year with festivity and bring in a joyous year. Catering by Michaels caters to traditional menus and treats typical of the Rosh Hashanah holiday (and other Jewish High Holidays). View our Rosh Hashanah menu and call us at (847) 966-6555 to set up catering for your festivities.