Festivities, traditions, and customs play a crucial role in keeping nations unified. One such historically celebrated religious festival is Sukkot, also known as the “Festival of Tabernacles” or the “Festival of Shelters.” It is marked by Jews and Christians every year and is significant as it is mentioned explicitly among the three major pilgrimage festivals in the Bible. This year, Sukkot Celebrations will begin on Monday, 20th September 2021 and keep the believers engaged until Monday, 27th September 2021.
This article enlists all that you may need to know about Sukkot. So keep reading and get ready to find a lot about this Jewish festival of joy and happenings.
What Is Sukkot? A brief history of the Tabernacles?
Sukkot is a religious festival of Jews with significant agricultural value. It is celebrated for seven days in a row and marks the beginning of autumn. For peasants and farmers, sukkot are all about gathering the harvest before the onset of the rainy season. On the other hand, this festival is celebrated in memory of the 40 years following the migration of Jews from Egypt.
The sukkah built for this festival symbolizes the huts that provided shelter to the immigrants while they wandered around the desert. This gives why these Tabernacles are constructed out of naturally available materials like twigs, bamboo, palm leaves, cornstalks, and other tree branches extracted from the ground.
It further rewinds the concept of living a simple life in a small hut-like structure under the sky where materialism, luxury, and comfort have no existence.
There are several other essential traditions and customs of this happening event. Let us now have a look at their details in the next section of this article.
What happens during Sukkot Celebrations?
The festivities begin on the 15th day of the Jewish month Tishri and continue for a week. The order of the various joyous events and activities are as follows.
One of the significant obligations of celebrating Sukkot is to build a Sukkah anywhere under the sky. The believers are also prescribed to live in this temporary hut-like shelter where they eat and sleep for the next seven days of this festival.
The interior of this structure is decorated and adorned with natural or artificial hanging plants, fruits, and vegetables. This activity further gives a definition.
Buying Lulav and Etrog
The waiving of the Lulav and Etrog is also mandatory for celebrating this Jewish festival. This pack of greens includes a palm frond called Lulav, three myrtles called hadasim, two willow twigs called aravot, and a citrus fruit known as Etrog. This bundle of greens is commonly referred to as “four kinds.” According to a custom, these greens are waved daily in six different directions except for Shabbat – a no activity period observed for a few minutes every Friday before sunset.
Times of the Temple
Sukkot is a pilgrimage festival, and thus, pilgrims are advised to visit temples while they are busy enjoying its festivities. However, this custom has been modified as per the convenience of the believers these days. That is why Jews now prefer visiting a synagogue where the migration of Jews from Egypt is read, and the building of the sukkot is discussed in detail. It is one of the primary religious activities observed during this happening festival mentioned in the Bible.
Since Sukkot is often viewed as the beginning of the rainy season, it also includes a water-drawing ceremony where believers dance and sing while filling water in a golden pot. The water is then poured into, requesting God’s blessing of rain. Thus, this is a custom of agricultural Worth because rainfall and water availability determine the productivity and yield of nearly all crops.
From the religious point of view, this custom urges the believers to pray to God for His blessings and submit themselves to His will.
The seventh or the last day of Sukkot is called Hoshana Rabbah. It marks the end of the festival when believers attend a special event at the synagogue to reinforce and recall the commandments of the Torah. For example, Lulav and Etrog are waved while reciting the blessings of the Sukkot.
Did you know? Facts and Figures – Sukkot
Sukkot festival is full of historical activities and customs that keep its spirit alive. However, there are several interesting facts and figures about the religious and traditional festivities of this festival. Let us share them with you right here.
- Jews believe that the spiritual guests or the seven shepherds
Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph, and David visit their sukkah daily during the seven days of Sukkot.
- The two-day holidays of Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah fall right after Sukkot.
- On the seventh day, Hoshana Rabbah, of sukkot, pilgrims enjoy a traditional meal of honey glazed Challah and kreplach – meat dumplings.
- Only the first and the last days of this pilgrimage festival are holidays.
- The word Sukkot is a plural of the word Sukkah – the Tabernacle. It has a Hebrian origin and is a name referring to the temporary resting spot of the farmers during the harvesting season.
- The laws and rules of celebrating this joyous festival state that the Tabernacles or sukkah – the shelter, must have at least three walls. At the same time, it must at least be 28 inches long and 40 inches high.
- Sukkot – the holiday of Shelters begins on a full moon.
Sukkot brings pleasure and joy and commemorates Jewish history’s historical event, i.e., the migration of Jews from Egypt. Many Jews believe that Sukkot is celebrated to make them realize the worth of living a simple life far away from the comfort of luxuries. They further claim that Sukkot reminds them that one can find joy in the simplest in the ordinary, and unity is the man’s most significant strength for all times to come. All in all, Sukkot is a symbol of peace, joy, celebrations, and togetherness.
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Leopold Pilichowski, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons