Rosh Hashanah, which means “head of the year” in Hebrew, is the Jewish New Year. It is a two-day celebration that marks the beginning of the Jewish calendar and usually falls in September or October on the Gregorian calendar.

Rosh Hashanah falls between September and October because it is based on the Hebrew calendar, which is a lunar-solar calendar. The Hebrew calendar is based on the cycles of the moon, with each month beginning with the sighting of the new moon. However, since the solar year is slightly longer than 12 lunar months, the Hebrew calendar must be adjusted 7 times in 19 years to keep the holidays in sync with the seasons, adding an extra month each time.

The origins of Rosh Hashana can be found in the Book of Leviticus, where it is referred to as Yom Teruah, or the Day of Trumpets. It was celebrated on the first day of the seventh month of the Jewish calendar, which is now known as Tishrei. The shofar, or ram’s horn, was blown as part of the holiday’s tradition.

It is a time for contemplation and reflection, as Jewish people look back on the past year and consider their actions, thoughts, and relationships. It is also a time for hope and renewal, as they pray for a good and sweet year to come.

As well as a time for reflection, it is a time to seek forgiveness from those who may have been wronged in the past year, as well as to forgive others who have wronged us. This process of forgiveness is a key theme of the holiday and is emphasized in many of the prayers and readings.

Many Jewish people attend synagogue on Rosh Hashanah, where they listen to the blowing of the shofar (a hollowed-out ram’s horn) and recite special prayers and blessings. The services are usually longer than regular synagogue services and include a number of additional readings and prayers.

A tradition of Rosh Hashanah is that women and children light candles each evening and recite prayers while doing so. Lighting candles on Rosh Hashanah is a way of marking the start of the Jewish New Year and welcoming in a fresh beginning. The candles represent the light of the future and the hope that the new year will be filled with blessings and goodness.

Another key tradition of Rosh Hashanah is to perform tashlich, on the afternoon of the first day of Rosh Hashanah, Jewish people often gather near a body of water (such as a river or lake) and perform the ritual, in which they symbolically cast off their sins and bad habits by throwing pieces of bread into the water and some, following prayers, shake out the corners of their clothes.

Jewish people eat specific foods on Rosh Hashanah that are believed to bring good luck and happiness for the coming year. Apples dipped in honey symbolise the wish for a sweet year, while pomegranates represent prosperity. Other popular foods include round challah (a braided egg bread) to signify the cycle of the year, and fish heads or other fish dishes to symbolize the head of the year.

During Rosh Hashanah, you will hear the saying “Shanah Tovah” which is a simple and heartfelt way to wish someone well for the upcoming year. Or you may hear the more formal greeting “L’shana tova tikatevu” which means “May you be inscribed for a good year.”

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