The festival of Rosh Hashanah is observed on 3 October, this year, and is a two-day celebration of the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve. The celebration takes place on the first day of the Jewish New Year, and emphasises the special connection and relationship between Divinity and humanity.
New Year Declarations
In Hebrew, the literal meaning of Rosh Hashanah is ‘head of the year’. The start of the Jewish New Year is also the birthday of mankind, with the primary theme of the day being the acceptance of God/the Divine as our King. It is believed that by giving thanks God continues to create and maintain the world for another year. Traditional Kabbalist teachings also decree that “all inhabitants of the world pass before God like a flock of sheep,” and in the heavenly court “who shall live and who shall die…who shall be impoverished, and who shall be enriched” is decided.
Rosh Hashanah Preparations
As the Jewish New Year approaches preparations for Rosh Hashanah celebrations begin several days before. A collection of penitential prayers known as the Selichot, are recited before morning prayers. The Selichot is recited every day until Rosh Hashanah.
Some people also choose to observe the custom of fasting on the eve of Rosh Hashanah. The annual celebration is considered to be a serious event and therefore any frivolity is minimised during this time.
The Sounding Of The Shofar
Central to the celebrations of Rosh Hashanah is the sounding of the shofar (the ram’s horn). The shofar is blasted 100 times over the course of both days of the anniversary, and symbolises the trumpet blast of the people’s coronation of their King. The sounding is also a call to repentance, and marks the Ten Days of Repentance, which culminate on Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement (11-12 Oct).
Rosh Hashanah Traditions
When it comes to traditional observances no Rosh Hashanah celebration is without challah or a piece of apple dipped in honey. This treat symbolises a New Year of sweetness, blessings, and abundance. Pomegranates are also eaten because the fruit’s plentiful seeds symbolise a year full of good deeds. Special prayers and blessings are given with the words: “May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.”
Girls and women of the house are given the charge of lighting candles to usher in the night of the special Jewish holiday. When the candles are lit appropriate blessings are recited. After morning and evening prayers, kuddish (a sanctifying blessing) is recited over wine or grape juice and is a central part of the holiday traditions.
The head of a ram, fish or other kosher animal is served, and symbolises the desire to be ‘head of the class’ in the coming year. It is also customary that on the second night of Rosh Hashanah, a ‘new fruit’ – a seasonal fruit that has not yet been tasted since its season began – is presented on the holiday table. The fruit is eaten after sipping the kiddush wine.
Celebrate the Jewish New Year by calling one of our experienced psychic readers for a ‘New Year’ reading.