The Jewish holiday of Sukkot, also known as the Feast of Booths, begins on the 15th day of the seventh month in the biblical calendar—or October 16 this year. The seven day holiday originates from the Book of Leviticus, in which God instructs Moses “You shall live in booths seven days.” Today, adherents celebrate by building temporary dwellings —or sukkahs— from wood, canvas, or aluminum, and praying inside of them. The holy week also commemorates the flimsy dwellings that Israelities were forced to live in during their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, following their exodus from Egypt.
History of Sukkot
Sukkot is similar to Thanksgiving. It is an occasion on which gratitude is expressed for blessings like good food and a safe shelter. The holiday also celebrates the yearly harvest.
The origin of the holiday is in the biblical story of Exodus, in which the Jews were freed from captivity in Egypt. After getting their freedom, they wandered through the desert and lived in temporary shelters for the next 40 years.
References to hag haasif or the “Feast of the Ingathering” and hag ha-sukkot or “Feast of Booths” are given in the Bible; fruit and grain was collected at the end of the harvest, and the events of the Israelites residing in huts during their wandering years are illustrated. To celebrate, huts or ‘sukkah’ are assembled using branches and certain plants. Extensive prayers are offered to God for blessings and a fruitful harvest.
The seventh day of the festival is called Hoshana Rabba, and the eighth day, although a part of the Sukkot observance, is sometimes considered as an independent festival called Shemini Atzeret.
At the time the First Temple is established in Jerusalem, Sukkot is the most important Jewish holiday, frequently mentioned in the Bible as the holiday of "in-gathering," or harvest.
Jews in New Orleans during the Civil War are unable to find an etrog or citron, but a resourceful rabbi suggests they can substitute a lemon, minus the prayer accompaniment, to make it count.
The Sukkah Project, a retailer in Grand Junction, Colorado, first offers the Klutz-Proof Sukkah Kit.
Sukkah City, a competition in Brooklyn, New York, features 600 very non-traditional and architecturally radical Sukkoth.
What happens during Sukkot?
Sukkot is a Jewish tradition during which a small hut is temporarily constructed as a shelter in the yard.
What is the meaning of Sukkot?
Sukkot means “booths” or “huts.”
What is a sukkah and what is its purpose?
Sukkah is a hut structure made by Jewish families in which they eat, sleep, and perform prayers during the Sukkot observance.
How to Observe Sukkot
Build a sukkah
Modern sukkahs are built of all kinds of materials, from wood to aluminum siding, and are typically decorated with depictions of the four species (four plant species mentioned in the Torah)
Read the Torah
During Sukkot, it is customary to read from the Torah every day, as well as reciting the Muffat and Hallel. Prayer takes place within sukkahs.
Take a rest
During Sukkot, activities that interfere with enjoyment of the holiday—such as household chores—are not permitted
5 Facts About Sukkot That You Didn't Know
Sukkot begins on a full moon
Sukkot starts at night before the 15th of the month of Tishrei on the Jewish calendar.
Sukkot has other names
Sukkot has three other names — Chag Haasif, Chag, and Zeman Simchatenu.
Organic material is used
The structure of the sukkah is covered with bamboo or other plants.
Most activity takes place in the sukkah
All activities and meals are taken in the sukkah, with some even sleeping inside it.
The last day of the festival
Hoshana Rabba concludes the celebration of Sukkot.
Why Sukkot is Important
It marks the end of harvest
Sukkot marks the end of the Israelite's harvest period, and is also referred to as "the feast of ingatherings."
It's an important reminder
Sukkot also gives adherents of the Jewish faith an opportunity to remember the Israelites 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, during which the tribes were forced to live in sukkah
Israel shuts down for it
In Israel, many businesses cease operations all seven days of Sukkot