JUDAISM | Sukkot

4 to 11 October

Beginning on the fifth day after Yom Kippur, the Festival of Sukkot is a joyful celebration of both historical and agricultural significance. Sukkot takes place over seven days, with no work permitted on the first and second days. On the remaining five days, known as Chol Ha-Mo’ed, work recommences. Also known as ‘The Season of our Rejoicing’ or ‘The Time of Our Joy’, Sukkot is a time when the nights are filled with music, song and dance as communities join together for nightly water-drawing celebrations. For Jews, this is both a contrast and a delight after the deeply sombre Yom Kippur festival a few days before.

Historically, Sukkot commemorates the forty-year period that the children of Israel spent wandering the Sinai Desert, living in sukkah (rudimentary huts), before reaching the Holy Land. To reaffirm their trust in God’s providence during Sukkot, Jews build temporary sukkot (plural: sukkah) to live in during the festival.

Agriculturally, Sukkot is a harvest festival and is often called ‘The Festival of Ingathering’. A tradition unique to Sukkot is the Taking of the Four Kinds: an etrog (citron), a lulav (palm frond), three hadassim (myrtle branches) and two aravot (willow branches). These represent the four types and personalities that make up the community of Israel, the intrinsic unity of which Jews show their respect for during Sukkot. The Four Kinds are also an integral part of the daily morning services which take place during Sukkot.

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