Jewish Holidays are spread all through the year and are observed with reverence by the Jews all over the world. Origin of Jewish Festivals, if traced back, leads to three sources –

  • Biblical passages – texts that deal with Jewish rites and beliefs (mitzvah).

  • Rabbinic Rules – the commandments that are part of the mainstream Judaism.

  • Israeli Connection – the tradition, history and customs of Israel.

Jewish festivals are observed following Jewish calendar which differs from the modern day Gregorian calendar system. As such, these festivals fall on different dates every year when coordinated with the modern day calendar. Jewish festivals are deep-rooted to the religious beliefs, cultural tradition and the history of the Jews.

A special characteristic of Jewish Festivals is that they begin with sunset of the previous day and continue till the sunset of the following day. This is because, according to Jewish belief, each day begins and ends at sun-down. Another unique feature of Jewish Holidays is that in some of them an observant Jew can work, while in others working is strictly prohibited.

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Below mentioned are the dates of Jewish Holidays for the year 2016 according to the Gregorian calendar –

Dates in 2016 Jewish Festival
January 25 (Monday) Tu B'Shevat
March 23 (Wednesday) Ta'anit Esther
Evening of March 23 (Wednesday) - Evening of March 24 (Thursday) Purim
March 25 (Friday) Shushan Purim
April 22 (Friday) Ta'anit Bechorot
Evening of April 22 (Friday) - Evening of April 30 (Saturday) Passover
May 05 (Thursday) Yom HaShoah
May 11 (Wednesday) Yom Hazikaron
May 12 (Thursday) Yom HaAtzmaut
May 22 (Sunday) Second Passover
May 26 (Thursday) Lag B'Omer
June 05 (Sunday) Yom Yerushalayim
Evening of June 11 (Saturday) to Evening of June 13 (Monday) Shavuot
July 24 (Sunday) 17th of Tammuz
Evening of August 13 (Saturday) - Evening of August 14 (Sunday) Tish'a B'Av
Evening of October 2 (Sunday) - Evening of October 4 (Tuesday) Rosh Hashanah
October 5 (Wednesday) Gedaliah
October 12 (Wednesday) Yom Kippur
Evening of October 16 (Sunday) - Evening of October 23 (Sunday) Sukkot
October 23 (Sunday) Hoshanah Rabbah
October 24 (Monday) Shemini Atzeret
October 25 (Tuesday) Simchat Torah
Evening of December 25 (Sunday) - Evening of January 1 (Sunday) Hanukkah
December 30 (Friday) Tevet 10
  • Tu B'Shevat: Literally meaning “New Year For The Trees”, Tu B’Shevat is a time for bonding with nature. This is observed generally by planting trees, eating produces from trees, and partaking Tu B’Shevat Sedar. Officially, this marks the advent of Spring in Israel.

  • Ta'anit Esther: Falling on the thirteenth day of the Hebrew month of ‘Adar’, Ta’nit Esther is a minor fast that is observed from sunrise to sunset. Working is allowed on this day. It precedes Purim.

  • Purim: Purim finds its origin in the Biblical Book of Esther. It signifies defeat of a conspiracy to kill Jews. As such, Purim celebrations denote reversal of fate. Fun, feasting, frolicking are integral part of Purim celebrations. People dress up for the occasion and donate to charities.

  • Shushan Purim: Sushan Purim finds reference in the Megillah readings. It is celebrated mainly by pompous feasting and also by sharing meals with near and dear ones.

  • Ta'anit Bechorot: This is a unique observance that generally falls on fourteenth day of the Hebrew month of Nisan. In this, the first born Jewish males observe a fast by abstaining from any food or drink, and even water.

  • Passover: Passover finds its origin in the story of the Exodus. It is believed that it is the day when God “passed over” Israeli homes and freed the Jewish people from slavery in ancient Egypt. It is also time for spring-cleaning homes and celebrating the ritualistic meal called Seder.

  • Yom HaShoah: This is a National memorial day in Israel that pays homage to the millions of Jews who lost their lives in the Holocaust carried out by Nazis in Germany. Literally translated Yom HaShoah means “The Day to remember Holocaust and Heroism”.

  • Yom Hazikaron: It is the day preceding the Independence Day of Israel. It has been declared Memorial Day by the Parliament of Israel in respect of the martyrs who sacrificed their lives to establish the country of Israel. All public entertainment avenues are shut down for the day. The most noted feature, however, are the two sounds of siren that mark the beginning and end of the two-minute standstill that the entire Nation observes.

  • Yom HaAtzmaut: This is the Independence Day of Israel observed on the fifth day of the Hebrew month of Iyar. It is celebrated by singing, dancing, fireworks, and by honoring Israeli citizens with notable contribution for a cause.

  • Second Passover: This comes on the fourteenth day of the Hebrew month of Iyar and is considered a minor holiday which has lost much of its significance outside the realm of conservative and orthodox Judaists.

  • Lag B'Omer: Celebrated on the 18th day of the Hebrew month of Iyar, Lag B’Omer marks the end of the mourning period of Omer and is commemorated with festivity, weddings, picnics and merriment.

  • Yom Yerushalayim: It is a National Holiday in Israel and is also known as Jerusalem Day and is celebrated with State ceremonies, parades, honoring the soldiers, and holding prayer services.

  • Shavuot:  Shavuot is a minor religious observance that commemorates the revelation at Sinai and of God giving the Torah. It is marked by reading Torah, eating dairy products and reading the Book of Ruth.

  • 17th of Tammuz: It is a minor fast day when Jewish people are required to fast from dawn till dusk that commemorates the destruction of Jewish Temples.

  • Tish'a B'Av: Observed on the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Tisha, Tish’aB’Av is a fast that Jewish people observe in reverence to all the tragedies that were inflicted on the Jews including the destruction of The First and The Second Temples.

  • Rosh Hashanah: This two day celebration marks the beginning of the Jewish New Year. Traditional customs include sounding shofar (horn) and eating symbolic food. Greetings of "Shanah Tovah” fill the air.

  • Gedaliah: It is a minor Jewish fast day that marks the assassination of the Judah Governor Gedaliah that led to the destruction of the First Temple.

  • Yom Kippur: It is considered the holiest day of the Jews and is spent by fasting, praying, and repenting for sins. According to traditional Jewish faith, it is believed that the fate of all human beings get decided upon by God on the New Year’s Day. Those who have repented for their sins are blessed with a happy New Year.

  • Sukkot: Celebrated on the fifteenth day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei, it is the day when Jews are commanded to take pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem.

  • Hoshanah Rabbah: Celebrated on the twenty-first day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei, it is a day for the Jews to participate in congregated prayers.

  • Shemini Atzeret: Celebrated on the twenty-second day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei, it is the day when Jews pray for rains.

  • Simchat Torah: This marks the end of the annual period in which Jews are required to participate in public Torah Readings.

  • Hanukkah: Commencing on the 25th of the Jewish month of Kislev, Hanukkah is the festival of lights that celebrates the rededication of Jewish Temple following the victory of the Jews. Lighting the Hanukkiyah lamp is a mandatory practice of this festival.

  • Tevet 10: It is a fast to mark the siege of Jerusalem that led to the destruction of the First Temple of Judah.