From Fields to Festivities: Uncovering 7 Shavuot Facts

Have you ever wondered what Shavuot is all about? This year, the Jewish holiday of Shavuot begins the night of June 11 and ends the night of June 13. There are so many meaningful and delicious parts to Shavuot; from dairy foods to learning Torah and the anticipation of becoming the Jewish people. Dive in to uncover the reasons behind these customs.

There are Modern Jewish Holidays, but Shavuot is Not One

The Jewish people have LOTS of holidays. Some holidays are mentioned in the Torah, like Shavuot, Sukkot and Passover, and some are considered modern holidays, which marks moments in Jewish history that happened after the writing of the Torah, like Chanukah and Purim.

Shavuot is a Pilgrimage Festival and Agricultural Festival.

Shavuot is a Pilgrimage Festival because people would celebrate the holiday by making a pilgrimage to the holy Temple in Jerusalem. In addition to Passover and Sukkot, Shavuot is an agricultural festival, as it marks the beginning of the seasonal grain harvest in Israel.

Shavuot Translates to mean “Weeks” in English.

But which weeks is the holiday of Shavuot referring to? It refers to the seven weeks between the Israelites leaving Egypt and their arrival at Mt. Sinai where they received and accepted the Torah, thus creating the Jewish People.

We Count UP to Shavuot, not Down.

There is a mitzvah to count the days from Passover to Shavuot, intended to build excitement as we commemorate THE MOMENT at Mt. Sinai. If you think about it, people generally count down to things they look forward to (ex. a New Year countdown), but in this case, we count up from 1 to 49. The idea is that our anticipation for reaching Mt. Sinai grows as we count higher. This is also a time to think about personal and communal growth, which brings us up, not down.

There’s a Custom to Primarily Eat Dairy on Shavuot.

When we received the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai, we also received the biblical Jewish laws. One law was kosher, which included information on how to slaughter an animal in a kosher way. Because received the Torah on Shabbat, we were not allowed to slaughter animals to eat meat. This is one reason why it’s a custom to eat dairy on Shavuot. Check out this great cherry cheesecake recipe!

We Stay Up All Night Learning Torah.

The holiday of Shavuot commemorates when we accepted the Torah as our own. To celebrate the acceptance, some people stay up all night learning Torah on the first night of Shauvot. Want to try this? E-mail us and we can find you a place in town that offers learning, or you can do it from the comfort of your home.

We Learn the Book of Ruth Over Shavuot

Ruth, a Moabite woman, married a Jewish man. After he died, she had the chance to go back to her people, but she chose to stay with her mother-in-law and live a Jewish life. Ruth is highly praised for her choice, and as a gift, the lineage of King David comes directly from her. Ultimately, Mashiach/The Messiah, will come from the line of King David, and therefore, Ruth. Why do we learn the story of Ruth on Shavuot? Her story is all about embracing the Jewish faith and its traditions, just like the Israelites did when they accepted the Torah.

How will you and your family choose to celebrate Shavuot and the monumental moment of receiving the Torah? I choose to eat cherry cheesecake!

Happy Holiday – Chag Sameach!