Happy Rosh Hashanah everybody! I hope you’re enjoying the holiday that you always wonder how to pronounce when you see it written on your calendar (it’s ROE-sha-SHA-na). Unless you’re Jewish or a professor in world religious studies you probably are wondering what exactly Rosh Hashanah is too. I did as well, so I looked it up, and while I’m certainly no expert on everything that goes into this special day, I feel like I’ve got a pretty good grip on it shofar (that’s funny; you just don’t know precisely why yet).
Rosh Hashanah is Hebrew for “head of the year” because it signifies the beginning of the Jewish New Year. The Hebrew Calendar is not the typical day-to-day calendar stuck on your fridge with a magnet – that’s called a Gregorian Calendar or Christian Calendar (it was implemented by a pope named Gregory; maybe it should be called the Catholic Calendar). The Hebrew Calendar is set up a bit differently. It’s a lunisolar calendar and is based on the orbit of the Earth around the Sun as well as the position of fixed constellations and stars and I’m going to leave it at that because if I try to explain it I will indubitably fuck it up. Suffice it to say it’s different.
Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the Hebrew month Tishrei. This usually is during September or October. Rosh Hashanah takes place over the course of the first two days of the month, starting at sunset through sundown on Day 2. The third day is called Tzom Gedaliah and is a fast day. That is in the sense that you refrain from eating, not because it goes by any quicker. Another foodless fast day is the tenth day of Tishrei, Yom Kippur, which is the most holy and important day in the Jewish year. The period of time between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is known as the Days of Awe and is meant to be a time of reflection and atonement of sins. Tradition (TRADITION!) is that God looks to put your name and fate in the Book of Life for each coming year on Rosh Hashanah and finalizes it on Yom Kippur. The Days of Awe are a time of goodness and devotion, like when a child is on his best behavior before a trip to Disney World, but with more of a focus on being the best man or woman you can be for the sake of God and others, not to ensure you’ll get to eat breakfast with Mickey and his pals.
There is food and fun with these holy days, as they are holidays. Honey covered apples are a staple to ring in a “sweet” new year. Challah, the sweet braided bread, is also enjoyed. My favorite aspect of Rosh Hashanah though is the shofar, a trumpet fashioned out of a hollowed ram horn that is blown during prayers. I’ve also seen a lot of pictures of horns from greater kudu, an African antelope that has the largest horns of that family, capable of growing over six feet. I’m not sure what the number of blasts symbolize, but if I here two I’m freaking out, and if three then I’m outta here (it was suddenly cold this weekend, after all).
Whether you are learning this for the first time as I have today, or are shaking your head at me for being such a terrible tyro, enjoy Rosh Hashanah and work to better yourself for the people around you and the world we share.
Thanks for reading! If you have anything to add or questions to ask, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Sound your way back here again next week for more fun and educational breakdowns of religious holidays. Or more likely poop jokes in an article about space. Yeah, that one. The poop joke one. Either way, y’all come back now!