What is Sukkot?
Sukkot, also known as the feast of Tabernacles, is one of the three autumn festivals of the Jewish people. It commemorates their time in the desert, living in temporary shelters and eating from the fruit they cultivated.
Traditionally, this holiday is celebrated by building and living in Sukkahs during this week-long festival. A sukkah is a structure made of natural materials like wood and palm leaves.
Sukkot - All Quick Overview
- Where Is It Marked?Globally
- Why Is It Marked?The seven-day holiday originates from the Book of Leviticus, in which God instructs Moses, “You shall live in booths for seven days.”
History of Sukkot
Sukkot is a Jewish Holiday, also known as the Festival of Booths. The occasion is one of the three main festivals for Jewish people - Shalosh Regalim or the Three Pilgrimage Festivals.
In many countries, people celebrate the new harvest in different seasons. But you may ask, what is the significance of Jewish people building a hut, living and eating there for seven days? To get the answer, let’s jump into the history behind Sukkot.
After Moses freed the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt, they didn't have any idea where they should go and start their very own settlement. Therefore, for almost 40 years, the Israelites spent wandering in the desert.
The word Sukkot comes from the Hebrew word for booths. During the 40 years, Jews lived in temporary shelters or Sukkahs because they never stayed in one place for long.
And they cultivated crops and fruits while they stayed in one place. Every day, they lived in temporary shelters and kept praying because God had saved them from their measurable life and provided them with shelter and food.
The holiday celebrates the fall harvest and serves to remind our dependence on God.
While celebrating Sukkot, two symbols are maintained in the festival. Lulay is a bundle of branches, and etrog is a type of citrus fruit. These symbols are in the festival to thank nature and give blessings.
After wandering in the Sinai desert for 40 years, Jews entered the Promised Land.
How to Celebrate Sukkot?
Sukkot is also known as the Festival of Ingathering. You will find several ways to celebrate Sukkot because Jews worldwide celebrate this day with proper respect, prayer, and a festive manner.
And here are some ideas on how Israelites observe this significant Jewish holiday commemorating their ancestors.
1. Decorating your Sukkah
Do you know what the most fun part of celebrating Sukkot is? It is decorating your Sukkah with your friends, cousins, and family!
You can get as creative as you want, but you should keep a few things in mind.
- Your Sukkah’s basic construction should be made of natural materials like wood, cornstalks, palm fronds, or bamboo.
- You need to include the elements that remind you of the outdoors, mostly dessert, for the decoration. For example, you can consist of leaves, branches, and flowers.
- It is possible to show your creativity in traditional Jewish items. In most households, you will find a menorah, Lulay, or etrog.
2. Feast like King Solomon did
And the fascinating part of Sukkot is the feast. Jewish families arrange tables with varieties of fruits and dishes. Sometimes they even sleep in their Sukkah.
Inside the Sukkah, Jews have a special meal that includes lots of food and wine on the first night of Sukkot. The foods are often prepared with the fall harvest, and they enjoy the week-long feast alongside eating, drinking, and being merry within their temporary shelters of leafy bowers(sukkahs).
3. Pray for the God-Gifted Wilderness
During the festival, the Jews not only stay in Sukkahs but also have their meals with their families and guests.
Moreover, circling a Torah scroll everyday morning during Sukkot is performed to chant prayers for salvation.
Every day you have to make three blessings over the food you will enjoy with your family. The Jews usually say the following:
Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth before you eat.
On the seventh day of Sukkot, the Jews circle the bimah or a central platform of the synagogue. Since it is done seven times, the day is known as Hisana Rabbah.
Countries that Observe Sukkot
All the people who are Jew and want to celebrate Sukkot gather in Jerusalem. It is the central part of Israel where the occasion is celebrated while maintaining adequate functionality.
No other country celebrates Sukkot with a seven-day national holiday like Israel. However, Jews who live in other parts of the world, such as the USA, UK, and Japan, celebrate this holy week in their way.
Interesting Facts about Sukkot
Although the celebration is about reminding oneself about God’s love and protection for his believers, some facts surround the festival.
And now it’s time for you to know some interesting facts about Sukkot.
- The Jewish Holiday of Sukkot starts in the evening before the 15th Jewish (lunar) month of Tishrei, when the moon is at its highest altitude.
- Sukkah doesn't need to be made in your backyard. People now build boats, Ox-cart, treetops, or camelback Sukkahs.
- On the last day, a special lunch includes honey-dipped challah and Kreplach or meat-filled dumplings.
- To invite the spiritual guests, the “Seven Shepherds,” pious men recite unique texts at night.
- Jews try to avoid any strenuous work during Sukkot.
Unique Sukkot Celebration Ideas
Well, Sukkot, or the day of booths, indeed has its traditional ways of celebration. But what if you live in a foreign country and do not have the chance to build a sukkah?
For you, we have some fantastic and unique ideas to observe Sukkot no matter where you are residing right now, far away from your home in Jerusalem.
1. Build Mobile Sukkahs
You can make mobile Sukkahs if you have a pickup truck and move around the city with your friends. You will be able to tell people what Sukkot is all about in a foreign land and have fun celebrating your best Sukkot.
2. Stay Indoor
We have all been locked down in the pandemic situation, remember? So, how do you think you will celebrate Sukkot if the situation gets worse again?
If you have already taken your shot against the Covid-19 virus, you might be safe to be outside among many people. Yet, it is better to stay indoors and build your Sukkahs with the abandoned Amazon delivery boxes!
You can tell your kids stories about constructing Sukkah back when you were little and the significance of doing so. What can be the best way to celebrate this religious holiday with your family?
3. Spend time in Volunteering
Jewish holiday Sukkot honors the harvest and recalls when the Israelites were living in makeshift shelters following their Exodus from Egypt. During that time, they used to leave some crops in every field for strangers and travelers who might need them on their journey.
To honor the practice of kindness, you can also start community services, help the poor people of your neighborhood and share some of your feasts with them.
4. Singing and Dancing
No festival feels like one until you include singing and dancing with it. Celebrate your Sukkot this year with your friends.
Here are some inspiring quotes about Sukkot day:
“Your [ensuing] generations should know that I had the children of Israel live in shelters when I took them out of the land of Egypt.”- Leviticus 23:43
“Praying that happiness to be yours and patience visits your home.” - Sreshtha
“The festival of Sukkot is a reminder for the Jews of how God protected them, provided for them in the wilderness, and still watches over them to ensure their safety today.”
1. What’s the meaning of Sukkot?
Sukkot is a Hebrew word meaning a temporary hut or booth.
2. Is Sukkot the same as Yom Kippur?
No, Sukkot is another festival celebrated five days after Yom Kippur.
3. Is Sukkot 7 or 8 days?
According to the Bible, Sukkot is Seven days.
4. Are Jews allowed to work on Sukkot?
No, it is better not to work on Sukkot.
5. What is the proper greeting for Sukkot?
To greet someone, you must say Chag Sameach or Happy Holiday.
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