(In this case, learn something about the Jewish roots of our Catholic faith.)
Rosh Hashanah starts this evening, Sept. 4.
For why Jewish feasts and celebrations start at sun down the evening “before” the day, go here.
Stay here to learn more about the Feast of Trumpets, Rosh hashanah, and it’s importance to Catholics.
First, yes, Rosh Hashanah is a celebration of the new year… but not the Hebrew new year.
In fact, when the Israelites (the precusor of the Jews as we currently think of them) were in the Babylonian exile and Rosh Hashanah fell on the first day of the Babylonian new year.
“The first day of Tishri” Tishri being the first month in the Babylonian calender, but the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar.
According to Biblical Perspectives, the Hebrew religious and civil calendars began at different times, kind of like the fiscal new year in the United States.
If you’ve read some of the Old Testament, you’re probably familiar with all the number symbolism. Seven represents the Sabbath, the day God rested after creating the world.
So to, God created a Sabbath on the seventh month of the year.
Leviticus 23:34 says, “In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a solemn rest, a memorial proclamation with a blast of trumpets, a holy convocation.”
A blast of trumpets! That’s where another name for the celebration comes from the. The Feast of Trumpets.
Apples and honey
Like most holidays, there are foods and traditions that go along with Rosh Hashanah, which by the way, I was taught to pronounce as “row sha-shan-ah.” Think of the sh of Rosh and the Ha of Hashanah going together as the first two… syllables. Row, shah-shan-ah. The shah-shan-ah goes fast off the tongue.
Anyway, yes, apples dipped in honey for a sweet new year. I don’t know where I learned this, but it’s such a simple beautiful way to express this.
Instead of champagne or sparkling grape juice for my (eventual) kids, I should give them apples with honey.
There is also the traditional blowing of the shofar, the ram’s horn. It’s kind of like a trumpet… only way cooler.
Challah bread is often served to represent the cycle of the year like a ring.
(That’s the breaded bread.)
Old Testament traditions are still our traditions.
We may not celebrate our sabbath on Saturday, we may eat pork… but we still believe in the truth in the Old Testament.
Rosh Hashanah and the Days of Awe (the 10 days from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur) are a very somber, serious, almost meditative time. It’s similar to a goal-planning, examination of conscience period for Jews.
We can practice that as well.
Professors take sabbaticals. We should probably examine how we’ve been doing on an annual basis. Maybe this is something to do in January, or in fall when school starts or in the spring when we’re cleaning house.
Yes, the nightly examination is good, but looking back at a year may help. Are there trends that we can only see over a long period of time? Probably.
There’s no formula for this, at least not that I know of.
But the feasts and memorials in the Old Testament and Israelite traditions shouldn’t be disregarded. They hold value for us as Catholics.