Sukkot is an observance associated with the Jewish faith , one that is mentioned in the Old Testament and is celebrated in the United States and around the world. In this article, you will learn the meaning behind the holiday and about some of the ways that Jews celebrate.
Also known as Feast of Booths, the Days of Our Rejoicing, or Feast of Tabernacles, Sukkot (which means ‘booth’) starts at sunset on the day before the 15th day of Tishri , according to the Hebrew calendar. This is also the fifth day after Yom Kippur.
The observance lasts for a total of seven days. The first two days are viewed as full holidays. Sukkot is a time to reflect on the time when Israelites wandered in the desert during their journey to the “promised land.” It was during this time that they lived in the sukkots or sukkahs (which were temporary structures used as a dwelling).
Sukkot is a festival and holiday centered on joy and happiness. According to the Old Testament, it is mentioned “In booths you are to dwell for seven days …so that your generations will know that I caused the children of Israel to dwell in booths when I took them from the land of Egypt….” The festival commemorates the forty years of exile the Jews had after escaping from Egypt.
The holiday is also connected to giving thanks for the harvest. Because of this, it is customary to decorate temporary dwellings with fruits that have come from the land. Another decoration for the huts is children’s artwork. Those following Sukkot are supposed to spend as much time as possible in their temporary dwelling or hut. Some choose to live in it during the holiday , eating, sleeping, and staying. Others may use the sukkah just to eat their meal, while they spend the rest of the time in their own homes.
When participating in the construction of a sukkah for the holiday, there are specific requirements one must follow. The dwelling must have at least two walls. A covering that originated from the ground is to serve as the top of the hut. A popular choice is palm branches. The covering cannot completely block out the rain, which is why some people leave their hut if the weather gets bad.
Another way to acknowledge Sukkot is to travel, which is a symbolic gesture towards the wandering of their ancestors. This is a time where Jews visit their loved ones and friends in the evening and share a special meal together. The Sukkot is also a time where some participate in a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. When this is not possible, taking a special trip with the family is another way to observe the holiday.
Some neighborhoods in Jerusalem have held contests between one another to see who could construct the best sukkah.