The first day of the first month of Tishri began with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, or the Feast of the Trumpets. Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement and the holiest day of the Jewish year, followed on the tenth day of Tishri. Then, on the fifteenth day of Tishri, there is Sukkot, or the Festival of Tabernacles.
The Lord said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the fifteenth day of the seventh month the Lord’s Festival of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts for seven days. The first day is a sacred assembly; do no regular work. For seven days present food offerings to the Lord, and on the eighth day hold a sacred assembly and present a food offering to the Lord. It is the closing special assembly; do no regular work.
(“These are the Lord’s appointed festivals, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies for bringing food offerings to the Lord—the burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings required for each day. These offerings are in addition to those for the Lord’s Sabbaths and in addition to your gifts and whatever you have vowed and all the freewill offerings you give to the Lord.)
“So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to the Lord for seven days; the first day is a day of sabbath rest, and the eighth day also is a day of sabbath rest. On the first day you are to take branches from luxuriant trees—from palms, willows and other leafy trees—and rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. Celebrate this as a festival to the Lord for seven days each year. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come; celebrate it in the seventh month. Live in temporary shelters for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in such shelters so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in temporary shelters when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.’”
So Moses announced to the Israelites the appointed festivals of the Lord. ~Leviticus 23:33-44
This feast signifies two main ideas, the historical significance that commemorates the Israelites wandering in the desert for forty years and living in temporary housing as well as agricultural significance as a harvest festival.
There are various traditions performed during Sukkot:
- Four species or kinds
- Other laws and customs
Sukkah, is a temporary shelter made of various elements. This shelter must have at least two and a half walls made of material that will not blow away in the wind. It can be any size, as long as a person can dwell in it. The roof or covering of this shelter must be made of something that grows out of the ground, like tree branches, corn stalks, bamboo reeds, etc.
The four species or kinds consists of n etrog (citron), a lulav (palm frond), three hadassim (myrtle twigs) and two aravot (willow twigs). There is to be a blessing placed on these, then gathered together in the hands. Then, wave these in six directions: right, left, forward, up, down, and backward.
Other laws and customs during Sukkot include prayers of hoshanot and ushpizin as well as holiday meals. Hoshanot commemorates the willow ceremony where worshippers parade around the alter reciting prayers. Ushpizin where special guests are invited into the sukkah. These guests are: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph, and David. Each night one special guest enters the sukkah until all seven nights have passed and all seven guests have arrived.
Sukkot meals might include fresh fruits and vegetables and stuffed foods, like a cornucopia (represents a bountiful harvest).
As Christians, it is important to know where we came from. We cannot know how far we’ve come until we remember where we started or came from.