Tag Archives: holiday

Rosh Hashanah

17 Sep

Rosh Hashanah Food Traditions

The Leek omlette, Swiss Chard omlette, Black-eyed peas, and Dates have two interpretations. First, all are eaten as foods that relate to the words they represent. For example, leeks are called Karsi, which is related to the word karet meaning to cut off or destroy. The blessing that goes with the leek omlette says, “[m]ay all your enemies be cut off.” They are pretty much the old food puns, like eating lettuce to say “lettuce” (“let us”) have a good new year. The second interpretation is that these are the foods the Gemorrah, a written Jewish text, recommended Jews eat on this holiday.

Pomegranate:

Pomegranate seeds symbolize merits. The blessing says “[m]ay your merits be many like the seeds of a pomengranate.”

Challah and sugar:

Challah is the bread that is always blessed on Jewish holidays. On Friday nights for Shabbat, challah is dipped in salt to remember the destruction of the second temple, but on Rosh Hashanah, challah is dipped in sugar for a sweet new year. The challah is also round, symbolizing the cyclical nature of the year and creation.

Fish or lambs head:

Sometimes Rosh Hashanah will feature a fish head on the table. This is to sybolize Rosh Hashanah as the head, or start, of the year. It is a fish because fish symbolizes fertility.

New fruit:

Every year you are supposed to try a new fruit, representing the new year. In the past few years, I’ve had quince, rambutan, and Chinese melon. It’s an excellent way to explore different types of ingredients and cultures.

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Rosh Hashanah: A Holiday Year in Food

16 Sep

The ultimate summary of most Jewish holidays can be boiled down to “they tried to kill us; they failed; let’s eat.” During holidays, foods take on special meanings and different Jewish ethnicities eat different foods when celebrating. Each holiday revolves around a different type of food that helps participants use their senses of taste, touch, smell, sight, and hearing to feel the holiday.

The year starts today, with Rosh Hashanah, literally translated as “head of the year.” For this occasion, dishes are sweet and symbolize our wishes for a sweet new year. Sukkot comes about a month later (sometime in between late-September and late October).  Sukkot is a harvest holiday focused around eating earthy foods and grains.

Then comes Hanukkah, the miracle of oil that lasted for many more days than was anticipated. For Hanukkah, all the foods you eat are fried.  Followed by Hanukkah is Tu Bishvat, the festival of the trees, that has foods symbolizing all four seasons and recognizing what is given to us from the earth.

Purim—a mix between Halloween and Mardi Gras, where the food you make is given to neighbors and others to show you care—comes next.  After that is Passover, the festival of unleavened bread, where each food symbolizes the journey from slavery to freedom.  Finally, is shavuot, when Jews received the ten commandments. In celebration, you stuff yourself with all sorts of dairy desserts.

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