One of Judaism’s holiest holidays, Rosh Hashanah is a time of contemplation and reflection.
Jewish people all over the world will be marking the occasion with traditions and customs centuries old.
But what is Rosh Hashanah? When is it taking place this year? And why is the Jewish New Year different to the secular New Year?
What is Rosh Hashanah?
Rosh Hashanah is considered one of the High Holy Days in the Jewish religion, and literally means “head of the year”. It commemorates the time Jewish people believe God created the world.
It also marks the beginning of the Days of Awe – a 10 day period of repentance culminating in the holy fasting day of Yom Kippur.
Unlike the secular New Year, Rosh Hashanah is not a time of noisy celebration. While there is some rejoicing, this is also a time of reflection and prayer.
This is because the following 10 Days of Awe are a time when God judges all humans and animals, determining if they will live or die the following year.
Those whose fate could be in the balance must use this time to repent, make amends, and perform good deeds.
When is Rosh Hashanah in 2021?
Rosh Hashanah begins on the first day of Tishrei, the seventh month in the Hebrew calendar, and normally lasts two days.
In 2021, the holiday starts on Monday, September 6, and ends on the evening of Wednesday September 8.
How is Rosh Hashanah celebrated?
Perhaps the most well known symbol of Rosh Hashanah is the shofar, an ancient instrument usually made from a ram’s horn.
It is blown during prayers as a “wake up call” for people to repent and remember the Creator.
Work is prohibited for Jewish people during Rosh Hashanah, and much of the holiday is spent at the synagogue in worship.
Festive meals are held with traditional foods and customs observed. Apples dipped in honey are often eaten to symbolise a sweet new year.
Round Challah (traditional bread) is served to symbolise the eternal cycle of life and the seasons.
Jewish people greet each other with the Hebrew phrase “Shana tovah” on Rosh Hashanah, which means “good new year”.