Unlike the American New Year celebrated on the December 31st, the Rosh Hashanah, a new ear for the Jews is not as celebrative and turns in to a big party. Instead the Jews spend their New Year for personal introspection and prayer. Jews may also visit graves believing that the prayers or good wishes of the dead can help the living. People wish each other a happy New Year to their fellow relatives, friends and family discuss what they were up to the previous year and what plans they hold for the coming year. Rosh Hashanah is part of a process of spiritual growth. The Hebrew month preceding it, Elul, is a time for charity, tzedakah. Rosh Hashanah falls on the first and second days of the seventh month, Tishri.
Typically, a blessing will be said over two loaves of bread, known as challah. The round shape symbolizes a crown, a reminder of the kingship of God. Challah also stands for the circle of life, and the hope that our lives endure without end. Challah is sometimes baked with a ladder on top in recognition that only God decides who climbs up or down the ladder of life. Some people bake Challah in the shape of a bird. The Torah says that God will protect Jerusalem in the same way a bird flies. Another tradition of Rosh Hashanah is Jews dip apple with honey to eat as a sweetener, honey is spread on challah. This sweet dessert symbolizes a sweet year that is ahead of them. Tzimmes, a mixture made from cinnamon, carrots, prunes, yams, and honey, is also customary.
Sephardic Jews living in those Mediterranean or Middle Eastern origin serve a whole fish as a wish for wealth, fertility, and good luck for the coming year. Some Jews present hidden baskets of fruit to other fellow Jew relatives and friends of theirs, symbolizing that no one knows what is ahead of their New Year.
The days of celebration of Rosh Hashanah by Jews is observed to vary. Orthodox Jews celebrate Rosh Hashanah for two days. Reform Jews often observe it for only one day. In Biblical times the moon used to determine for how many days the Jews will celebrate the Rosh Hashanah, not the calendar. Observers watching the sky declared the new moon. Since Rosh Hashanah falls on the first day of the month, people living far from Jerusalem did not have time to learn the exact date. Even those living near Jerusalem could miss the festival if the witnesses did not arrive on time. Due to which two days were set aside for observance so everyone would have time to participate.
The calendar for upcoming Rosh Hashanah is given below:
Jewish New YearStarts (at sundown)Ends (at night)