Jewish traditions and customs include a number of festivals that are scattered all round the year. These are observed by the Jews all over the world with much reverence and are celebrated with utmost sincerity.
If we try to figure out the history of the origin of the Jewish Festivals, we can see them stemming from three sources —
- Biblical passages – texts to commemorate the Jewish rituals, observances and beliefs (mitzvah).
- Rabbinic Rules – the commandments that are considered significant and entwined to the mainstream Judaism.
- Israeli Connection – the tradition, history, heritage and customs of Israel.
As a tradition, Jewish Festivals begin in the evening at sunset of the previous day and continue till the night falls on the following day. In Jewish customs it is thought to be auspicious to begin a ceremony post sunset, for the Jewish people believe that a day begins and ends only when the sun goes down the horizon. Another unique feature that marks Jewish Holidays is that in some of them an observant Jewish person is strictly not allowed to work, while in some others there is no such restriction.
The Jewish holidays are calculated as per the Hebrew calendar. Hebrew calendar is a luni-solar one. As such it differs from the modern day calendar system. As such it is but natural that the Jewish Holidays and observances keep changing dates from one year to the next when plotted on the Gregorian calendar. Now let us have a look at the Jewish Holidays 2015 and read brief descriptions about the same –
|Printable Calendars||Desktop Calendars||Hindu Calendar|
|Muslim Calendar||Christian Calendar||Jewish Calendar|
|Bahai Calendar||Rastafari Calendar||Zoroastrian Calendar|
|Pagan Calendar||Jain Calendar||Shinto Calendar|
|Buddhist Calendar||Sikh Calendar|
|Wednesday, February 4||Tu B’Shevat|
|Wednesday, March 4||Ta’anit Esther|
|Begins sunset of Wednesday, March 4||Purim|
|Ends nightfall of Thursday, March 5|
|Friday, March 6||Shushan Purim|
|Wednesday, April 22||Ta’anit Bechorot|
|Begins sunset of Friday, April 3||Passover|
|Ends nightfall of Saturday, April 11|
|Begins sunset ofWednesday, April 15||Yom HaShoah|
|Ends nightfall of Thursday, April 16|
|Begins sunset of Wednesday, April 22||Yom HaAtzmaut|
|Ends nightfall of Saturday, April 23|
|Sunday, May 3||Second Passover|
|Thursday, May 7||Lag B’Omer|
|May 28 (Wednesday)||Yom Yerushalayim|
|Begins sunset of Saturday, May 23||Shavuot|
|Ends nightfall of Monday, May 25|
|Sunday, July 5||17th of Tammuz|
|Begins sunset of Saturday, July 25||Tish’a B’Av|
|Ends nightfall of Sunday, July 26|
|Begins sunset of Sunday, September 13||Rosh Hashanah|
|Ends nightfall of Tuesday, September 15|
|Wednesday, September 16||Gedaliah|
|Begins sunset of Tuesday, September 22||Yom Kippur|
|Ends nightfall of Wednesday, September 23|
|Begins sunset of Sunday, September 27||Sukkot|
|Ends nightfall of Sunday, October 4|
|Sunday, October 4||Hoshanah Rabbah|
|Begins sunset of Sunday, October 4||Shemini Atzeret|
|Ends nightfall of Tuesday, October 6|
|Begins sunset of Sunday, October 4||Simchat Torah|
|Ends nightfall of Tuesday, October 6|
|Begins sunset of Sunday, December 6||Hanukkah/ Chanukkah|
|Ends nightfall of Monday, December 14|
|Begins sunrise of Tuesday, December 22||Fast of Tevet 10 (Asarah Be’Tevet)|
|Ends nightfall of Tuesday, December 22|
|January 1st – History||Chinese New Year||Hindu New Year|
|Hmong New Year||Islamic New Year||Japanese New Year|
|Jewish New Year||Korean New Year||Thai New Year|
|Persian New Year||Tibetan New Year||Vietnamese New Year|
- Tu B’Shevat: Literally translated the term means “New Year for the Trees”. Tu B’Shevat is considered by the Jews to be a time that reinstates the fact that man has deep connection with nature. The main idea behind the celebration of this day is to bond with nature. It is a common custom for people to plant trees, eat produces from the trees and enjoying the Tu B’Shevat Seder. This day officially kick starts the Spring season in Israel. It is also the time to calculate the harvest tithes, and to donate a part of it to the needy.
- Ta’anit Esther: This is observed on the thirteenth day of the Hebrew month of ‘Adar’.
- Purim: Purim is the day which is celebrated as a victory over conspiracy that planned to kill many Jewish people. The reference of this can be traced back to the Biblical Book of Esther. On this day Jews celebrate the reversal of fate. This is a festival that is joyous in nature and is celebrated with much zest. People dress up for the occasion. Special meals are cooked on this day to uphold the celebratory spirit. It is also considered auspicious to donate to charitable causes on this day.
- Shushan Purim: This is the day when people indulge in elaborate feasting in the happy company of their friends and family members.
- Ta’anit Bechorot: This unique observance takes place on the fourteenth day of the Hebrew month of Nisan. This is the day before the Passover when the first born Jewish males of every family observe a strict fast where they do not drink even water.
- Passover: Passover finds mythological reference in the story of Exodus. The Jewish people believe that on the day of Passover God “passed over” homes in Israel. En route He freed the Jewish people from slavery since during that times Jews were serving as slaves in ancient Egypt. Homes are thoroughly cleaned, and people partake of special meal called Seder.
- Yom HaShoah: This is “The Day to remember Holocaust and Heroism”. History has been witness to brutal deaths of many Jews who lost their lives in the Holocaust that happened in Germany under the rule of the Nazis. This is the day that honors their martyrdom. This day is also observed as a National Memorial Day for the martyrs.
- Yom Hazikaron: Simply put, this is the day before the Independence Day of Israel. This is the day to remember the contribution those martyrs who sacrificed their lives to bring independence to the country, and to honor them. The entire Nation observes a two minute standstill as a mark of respect.
- Yom HaAtzmaut: This is the day that commemorates the Independence of Israel and is observed on the fifth day of the Hebrew month of Iyar. It is also a tradition to honor Israeli citizens who have made any notable contribution on this day.
- Second Passover: This is observed on the fourteenth day of the month of Iyar as per to the Hebrew calendar.
- Lag B’Omer: This day marks the end of the forty nine days of mourning that is known as Omer. It is observed on the 18th day of the Hebrew month of Iyar. This is a joyous occasion and is also considered to be an auspicious time for Jewish weddings.
- Yom Yerushalayim: Also known as the Jerusalem Day, this day is a National Holiday in Israel..
- Shavuot: This day commemorates the revelation at Sinai. Jewish people believe that it is on this day that God gave the Torah, which is the pivotal point of Jewish teachings. Traditions include reciting the Torah, eating dairy products and reciting the Book of Ruth.
- 17th of Tammuz: This is the day when the Jews mourn the destruction of Jewish Temples by fasting from dawn to dusk.
- Tish’a B’Av: This commences on the ninth day of the traditional Jewish month of Tisha, as per the Hebrew calendar, to honor all the tragedies that the Jews had to face including but not limiting to the destruction of The First and The Second Temples.
- Rosh Hashanah: This is a two day festival that marks the beginning of the Jewish New Year. It is common to greet each other “Shanah Tovah”. Traditional customs include sounding shofar (horn) and eating symbolic food.
- Gedaliah: This day marks the assassination of the Judah Governor Gedaliah which lead to the destruction of the First Temple.
- Yom Kippur: The Jews consider this to be the holiest day of the whole year. Jews believe that every New Year God takes up the task of writing the fate of every human being based on his/ her performance in the previous year. Those who have been good are blessed. It is a common custom to reflect upon vices and virtues and be repentant for sins that may have been committed.
- Sukkot: The Jews commemorate this on the fifteenth day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei. During this time, Pilgrimage to the Temple In Jerusalem is a ritual.
- Hoshanah Rabbah: This is observed on the twenty-first day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei. To commemorate people get together for prayers.
- Shemini Atzeret: This day is observed on the twenty-second day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei. On this day Jews pray for rainfall.
- Simchat Torah: This marks the end of that time of the year when Jews read Torah publicly.
- Hanukkah: Also known as the Festival of Lights, this is observed on the 25th day of the traditional Jewish month of Kislev. It celebrates the victory of the Jews when the Jewish Temple again got dedicated. The Hanukkiyah lamp is lit as a mark of the victory.
- Tevet 10: This is the day when Jerusalem withstood siege that in turn lead to the destruction of the First Temple of Judah.