Thursday, September 19, 2013

C'hag Sameach! How to Celebrate Sukkot and Why You Should!

The Sukkut festival is the happiest of the Jewish festivals. We celebrated tonight with friends who are camping for the week and we'll have a household here on Saturday to continue the festivities.

Sukkot is the Hebrew word for “booths,” the singular being “sukkah. It is known as the Feast of Tabernacles, “Z'man Simchatein” or the "Season of our Rejoicing.” It is also know as the Festival of the In-gathering or “Chag ha-Asif” and will occur on the 15th day of the month of Tishri (late September to late October), that is, 5 days after Yom Kippur.
Sukkut is a celebration of God’s provision as well as release from desert wanderings. The holiday is also associated with another great event, which is the consecration of the Temple of Jerusalem during the reign of King Solomon, which took place during Sukkot.  This historic event is mentioned in Kings Chronicles' I and II. As you can see, Sukkot is rich with meaning and is one of the three major Jewish holidays, which consists of three pilgrim festivals, Sukkot, Passover and Shavuot, known collectively as the Shalosh Regalim. The holiday lasts for 7 days and combines elements of Thanksgiving, Homecoming and Christmas, with the fun of a family camp-out thrown in.
The Feast of Tabernacles/Sukkot is important to us as Christians because it points to the future day when the Messiah sets up the Messianic Kingdom and tabernacles (dwells) with us. Joy, indeed!
How to Celebrate Sukkot
1)      A sukkah is built. This can be a porch, a tent, or a temporary shelter, constructed from tent poles or inexpensive wood, even a large box or with pallets. The sukkah symbolizes the temporary shelters that were used during the desert wanderings. The Sukkah is a place where the devout eat and sleep during the seven days of the festival. The first day is celebrated with special prayer services and holiday meals. Inside these temporary quarters, all the members of the family have the Sukkot meal together. The Sukkah is dismantled on the last day of the festival symbolizing the homecoming the Jewish people experienced as they entered the Promised Land. People usually decorate their sukkah with flowers, fruit, paper chains, banners, and pictures of Jerusalem. It is very common to invite friends to eat with your family in the sukkah in the tradition of Abraham, who always invited strangers in to eat with him. The top of the sukkah is open, to see the stars of heaven. You can build a simple sukkah; there are many designs and ideas on-line. Use a porch, a tent, or simply make a graham cracker, pretzel, frosting sukkah, to symbolize a temporary dwelling.
2)      4 species of plants are used during the celebration: the etrog (a fruit similar to a lemon), and the branches of myrtle, palm and willow. These are tied together to make a lulav. Each day of the festival, people shake the four species to symbolize the various people in our community; from the spiritually strong to the spiritually weak. Just as all 4 species are held together, the community must come together and be united with the strong and the weak working together (Ecc 4:9). People wave the lulav and point the etrog in all four directions of the compass as well as up and down, three times each day, representing God's total presence and dominion over the entire universe. You can create a paper mache etrog. Google search for a picture of the real fruit, and then re-create them using balloons, paper mache material and paint.
3)      Hang banners on your sukkah or the walls of your home. You can create some simple banners using pillow cases and table cloths. A traditional saying would be “Baruch ha-ba” “Blessed be the one who comes.” Other banners might say “ivdu et Hasem b’Simcha (serve G-d with joy) or “sarua I’tzadik vlvishrei leiv smcha” (light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart).
4)      Create a harvest centerpiece using fall gourds, pumpkins, etc. Decorate your table in fall colors.
5)      Make paper chains in fall colors, perler shapes to hang, and a fall wreath to add to our decorations.
6)      Invite friends and family over to eat delicious food, and don’t forget the bake some Challah bread, without which no Biblical celebration is complete. It’s the season to celebrate God’s provision, our permanent home in Heaven and that He will tabernacle among us one day soon.
May the joy and peace of the Lord be with you this fall! Chag Sameach Sukkot
This post was first published in The Homeschool Village.
@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!


A Learning Journey said...

Thank you for sharing this post. I haven't ever heard of Sukkot. I am grateful that I can learn through others. Do you by any chance have a challah bread recipe you could share or post? The ideas you listed look great.

Tess said...

One of things that drew me to the Eastern Orthodox Christian Faith is just how much of the liturgy and the liturgical calendar ties in to the Jewish traditions. May you have a blessed and festive celebration of this feast!

Tara Mitchell said...

This is very interesting information. Looks like a fun celebration, and your bread is beautiful!

Marcy Crabtree said...

I love learning about Jewish traditiongs. Thank you for sharing about Sukkot.

And that Challah! Wow! It's beautiful!

kewkew said...

I have looked into the importance of Passover and its significance to us as Christians, but I never thought about the other Jewish festivals. I wish I could get my husband to see the relevance. He was okay with our celebrating Passover a couple of years ago, but I would love if he would lead in this.
Thanks for sharing. I have got to look into it more.
Can you recommend any websites or books with information?

Debbie said...

This sounds like a lot of fun (and meaningful too.) I remember reading about this celebration in the "All of Kind Family" books.

Lexi said...

How fun! We studied the Jewish festivals when we did Tapestry of Grace Year 1 a few years ago. I was totally planning to host celebrations for a couple of them and then I realized that we have so many food allergies that I could NOT figure out what to do with the food! So....I gave up and we just read beautiful picture books about all of them. We know some friends who celebrate several of the holidays and I love hearing how they celebrate!

The Zookeeper said...

What a neat idea. I've personally never heard of this but I loved reading your post because I learned a lot!

Meg Falciani said...

I've been learning more and more about Jewish holidays. We aren't Jewish (we're Catholic) but my MIL's family is Jewish. There are so many more things about Catholicism that make sense if you go back to the Jewish heritage! And seriously -- Jewish holidays have Food. Capital F. The only food stuff we do is fast. I know there are fasting holidays (my one Orthodox friend and I joke "Is this a stuff yourself or starve yourself holiday?") but wow, the feasting ones more than make up for it. said...

I learned so much from your post. This sounds like a great idea. I will pin the post and maybe we can plan this for next year. Thanks for sharing.