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7 Wacky Rosh HaShanah Customs

7 Wacky Rosh HaShanah Customs

Maybe there's no ball-drop, but that doesn't mean Jews don't know how to party.

1. Fun Foods and Pun Foods

Should you eat beets to beat your adversaries? Want your yearly merits to be as plentiful as the seeds in a pomegranate? Is eating a fish head really worth you not being the tail this year? These Rosh Hashanah pun foods may be a way to spice up your festive table, but they may not appeal to your taste buds. The benefit? This customs adds a newfound level of creativity to your holiday table. Just add a food and create a pun. Celery + Raisins = “May it be your will for… a raise in salary.”

2. Thou Shalt Not Sleep During the Day

Do you fear that you will have a sleepy new year? There is a custom not to sleep or take idle walks during the afternoon on Rosh HaShanah. The good news? One Kabbalist commentary permits a nap on Rosh HaShanah afternoon.

3. The Act of Tashlich (“Casting Off”)

This is the custom to stand overlooking a body of water and recite a passage repenting your sins originates in Talmudic sources. However, throwing bread into the body of water as a symbolic gesture of casting off wrongdoings adds a proactive element to the practice. Some people have the custom to also crumple a piece of paper, sometimes with a sin to atone for written on it, and throwing the paper into the trash.

4. Buying Something New

This custom put the emphasis on having a sweet new year. Buy a new dress, some new shoes, or even a new game for the family to enjoy. Rosh HaShanah customs revolve around the concept of having a fresh start to a new year.

5. More Than an Apple, Another New Fruit

There is a custom to eat a new fruit, or a fruit that participants have not eaten for a while, on the second night of the holiday. Pomegranates are a popular choice for the new fruit because the 613 seeds have a kabbalistic correspondence to the 613 commandments. There is also a belief that the pomegranate is a symbol of fertility. Other “exotic fruits” such as kiwis, dragon fruits, or any fruit that may not be customary to be eaten frequently during the year are also used.

6. Round Challah

Round shaped challahs are often used on Rosh HaShanah in place of the normal shaped loaves. The roundness is symbolic of the continuity of creation. Also, on Rosh HaShanah some people add raisins or cinnamon to the challah to add another element of sweetness to the bread.

7. Wearing White and White in Synagogue

The color white is understood as representing purity. It’s therefore sometimes customary to wear white on The Day of Atonement to represent the concept of purity that is connected to atonement. This reasoning is also connected to the practice of some synagogues to adorn the Ark and Torah scrolls in white coverings specific for the High Holy Days.

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