What is Rosh Hashanah? It’s the Jewish New Year.
Why is the new year in September and not January? Jewish people often celebrate January’s new year as well, but that’s about the calendar year starting over, and this is about the Jewish year of celebrations starting over. There’s a very old Jewish calendar that reflects our celebrations in addition to the annual yearly calendar. Our celebrations fall on a day but not a date, the same way Easter does. There are lots of Jewish celebrations, and every year they start in September.
What is Rosh Hashana celebrating? Well, officially it’s the celebration of the beginning of man. That whole Adam/Eve story and all that. But actually, September is really unofficially known as the celebration of ‘Clean Slate!’ It’s the time when we start over with our attempts at being organized and ridding ourselves of emotional baggage. I think September really does feel like a time of change. After a warm and lazy summer, it’s the time of year we all buckle back down and get into routines again. Children go back to school, schedules become busy again, the weather gets brisker and we start to prepare for the cold weather approaching. It’s a real time of change for many families.
What do Jewish People do for Rosh Hashanah? Jewish people do very specific things. The week leading up to Rosh Hashanah we get organized! From updating our wall calendars and address books to tightening the routines in our day, Rosh Hashanah is a time to refresh how we manage our time and space. Rosh Hashanah is also a time when Jewish people think about anything they may have done that wasn’t nice and they try and fix this. We apologize to anyone offended or mistreated. On Rosh Hashana itself we have a feast with our family and friends.
What do Jewish people eat on Rosh Hashanah? We eat apples and honey, apples representing the Adam/Eve story and honey to represent the sweetness of life. We eat lots of different types of food that have apples and honey in them, such as apple cake, honey cake, and apples and honey with our main food courses such as apple stuffing and honey glazed salmon. We have a feast, known as the Yehi Ratzon which loosely translated to: “May it be Your will”, and during this feast we also eat harvest foods including pumpkin and other squash, stuffed. We also eat fish, retaining the fish head on the plate. It’s tradition to encourage each other to eat as much of the fish head as possible for good luck!
What else do Jewish People do on Rosh Hashanah? We listen to a very loud special kind of trumpet blown. It’s blown by a Jewish religious man, known as a Rabbi. The trumpet is made from a ram’s horn and is called a Shofar. The reason he blows it is to wake us up to the new year and remind us that it’s not too late in the year to get organized and get our routines in order. It’s also not too late to make up with people and to work on being a better person if we need to.