For many, the New Year is a time of gratitude, when they think about the good and the tough experiences of the previous year. They are thankful to all the people who helped them sail through the difficult times which gives them inspiration to work more and better. The New Year is also thought of as an apt time to reflect where they were last year and make plans for the coming year. This can be with regards to their careers, personal life or finances. There is a lot of anticipation as to what the New Year has in store for them. As it is a time for celebrations, people bury their failures, mistakes, or their unfulfilled goals and eagerly look forward to make a fresh new start like a clean slate that is waiting to be written upon. Though the same spirit of renewal of hopes permeates New Year celebrations in most of the religions, the traditions and method of celebrations varies a lot. One such religion that has its own unique way of celebrating the New Year is Judaism.
Monotheism refers to the worshipping of only one god and Judaism, the religion followed by the Jews, is one of the oldest surviving monotheistic faiths. Judaism believes that each individual, whether Jewish or non-Jewish was created "b'tzelemElohim", which means "in the image of God" in Hebrew. Judaism also preaches that people have the freewill to decide for themselves as each one is responsible for the consequences of those decisions and choices.
The Jewish New Year is known as 'Rosh Hashanah' which means 'head of the year'. The New Year begins on the first day of the Jewish month of 'Tishri', which is in autumn. In the Jewish temples the 'shofar' (ram's horn) is sounded, which is a call to Jewish people to repent. According to the Jews, god decides the fate of an individual for the year on New Year's Day. On the tenth day of Tishri, called 'Yom Kippur', the Jews fast for the whole day. It is the holiest day for the Jews. They offer prayers to god and repent for their sins on this day. Many Jews wear white ceremonial clothes as a symbol of purity and renewal. People wear new clothes and avoid wearing leather on New Year's Day. They break their fast at the end of the day, after sunset, with a feast that is shared by family and friends.
Jews prepare and eat special food on New Year's Day. People eat apples and honey, which symbolizes a sweet year ahead. Dates, figs and pomegranates are also eaten. Some also eat egg bread, which is supposed to represent God's crown. East European Jews eat brisket, Gefilte fish, turkey and honey cake. Moroccan Jews eat fritters in honey and blue plum pie.
For the Jews New Year's Day is a day of prayer, repentance and fasting that finally culminates in a feast and celebrations.
Read about Jewish New Year, Jew New Year and Jewish New Year Food.