Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of the year in the traditional Jewish calendar. Find out Rosh Hashanah dates for 2019 and 2020. Also, learn more about how Rosh Hashanah is celebrated—with many interesting traditions and symbolic foods!
What is Rosh Hashanah?
Rosh Hashanah, literally “Head of the Year” in Hebrew, is the beginning of the Jewish new year. It is the first of the High Holidays or “Days of Awe,” ending 10 days later with Yom Kippur.
This two-day festival marks the anniversary of human’s creation—and the special relationship between humans and God, the creator.
Rosh Hashanah begins with the sounding of the shofar, the ram’s horn, proclaiming God as King of the Universe, just as a trumpet would be sounded at a king’s coronation. In fact, Rosh Hashanah is described in the Torah as Yom Teru’ah, a day of sounding (the Shofar).
The sound of the shofar is also a call to repentance—to wake up and re-examine our commitment to God and to correct our ways. Thus begins the “Ten Days of Repentance” which ends with Yom Kippur, the “Day of Atonement.”
When is Rosh Hashanah?
Note that the Jewish calendar is different than today’s civil calendar (the Gregorian calendar). It is a “Luni-Solar” calendar, established by the cycles of the Moon and the Sun, so the lengths of days vary by the season, controlled by the times of sunset, nightfall, dawn, and sunrise. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, occurs on the first two days of Tishrei, the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar.
All Jewish holidays begin at sundown on the date listed.
Rosh Hashanah begins:
|2019||5780||Sunset September 30, 2019 (to nightfall October 1)|
|2020||5781||Sunset September 18, 2020 (to nightfall September 20)|
|2021||5782||Sunset September 6, 2019 (to nightfall September 8)|
Artist: Suzzi Glaser
Rosh Hashanah Traditions
There are many traditions associated with Rosh Hashanah including symbolic foods.
- As mentioned above, there is the sounding of the ram’s horn (shofar) on both mornings.
- Every evening, candles are lit. Candles are often a symbol of remembrance.
- Spicy, sharp, or sour foods are avoided in favor of sweet delicacies, representing wishes for a sweet and pleasant year (not a bitter year).
Some of the symbolic foods include:
- Apples dipped in honey (on the first night)
- Challah (egg bread) dipped in honey. Try our delicious challah recipe.
- A new seasonal fruit (on the second night).
- Pomegranates (as its many seeds symbolize the hope that the year will be rich with many blessings).
- The head of a fish (or ram) asking God that in the coming year we be “a head and not a tail.”
If you observe Rosh Hashanah, please share your traditions below!