"Rosh Hashanah," commonly known as the Jewish New Year, is one of the most important religious holidays Jews. The celebration lasts for two days and this year, it begins in the evening of Sunday, Sept. 16 and ends in the evening of Tuesday, Sept. 18.
In Hebrew, Rosh Hashanah means the "head of the year." It is also called the "Feast of the Trumpets." According to customs, Jews celebrate Rosh Hashanah by blowing a ram's horn, a "shofar," and eating symbolic foods such as apples dipped in honey.
In addition, Rosh Hashanah is also observed as a judgment day as Jews believe that God compares the good deeds of a person with his or her bad deeds in the year and based on that, He decides how the next year will turn out to be.
Let's have a look at 10 interesting facts about Rosh Hashanah:
1. During Rosh Hashanah, majority of time is spent in the synagogue, a Jewish or Samaritan house of prayer, as no work is allowed on Rosh Hashanah.
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2. One of the major synagogue rituals for Rosh Hashanah is the blowing of the "shofar." While playing the "shofar," a hundred notes are sounded in a special rhythm. The sound of "shofar" marks the beginning of a ten-day period known as the "Days of Awe," which ends with the festival of "Yom Kippur."
3. According to legends, Rosh Hashanah was the day when Adam was created out of clay. It was also the birthday of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
4. Unlike other holidays in Jewish faith, Rosh Hashanah does not involve fasting. For Rosh Hashanah, some special foods are prepared and each of them carries specific meaning.
5. Apples and bread dipped in honey represents a sweet new year ahead. Jews dip the apple in honey and say this blessing - "Blessed are You, Lord our God, king of the universe, who creates the fruit of the tree. Amen."
6. A short prayer follows after taking a bite of the apple - "May it be Your will, Lord our God and God of our ancestors, that you renew for us a good and sweet year."
7. Hallah or Challah bread (special Jewish braided bread) in a round loaf, rather than the plaited loaf served on the Sabbath, so as to symbolize a circle of life and of the year.
8. In a traditional Rosh Hashanah meal, a typical dish is fish, served with a wish for prosperity, fertility, and good luck for the coming year. Since its eyes are always open, it represents knowledge.
9. The number of seeds that a pomegranate is believed to have (613) is the same number of "mitzvoth" (commandments) that a Jew is obliged to keep.
10. On Rosh Hashanah, many Jews follow a custom called "tashlich" (casting off), in which they walk to a river or stream and symbolically cast off their sins committed during the previous year by throwing pieces of bread into the water.