Click here for our calendar of Religious Festivals
What and when are the main Jewish Festivals?
Passover (Pesach in Hebrew) is celebrated to commemorate the liberation of the Children of Israel who were led out of slavery in Egypt by Moses.
It is a major eight day festival. A highlight is the Seder meal held in each family's home at the beginning of the festival, when the story of their deliverance is recounted as narrated in the Haggadah (the Telling, the Story). Matzah (unleavened bread) is eaten throughout the festival, as are other foods that contain no leaven. There is a great spring cleaning in the home before the festival to ensure that no trace of leaven is left in the home during Pesach.
Rosh Hashanah - Jewish New Year
Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year festival and commemorates the creation of the world.
This festival marks the Jewish New Year and begins with ten days of repentance and self examination, during which time God sits in judgement on every person. The festival is also known as the Day of Judgement, the Day of the Sounding of the Shofar, and the Day of Remembrance.
Over the two days of Rosh Hashanah, there are special services at the synagogue. A musical instrument, called a shofar, is blown. It makes a loud piercing sound like a trumpet and reminds Jews of God's great power.
People east slices of apple dipped in honey. This is a way of wishing each other a sweet and happy New Year.
Happy New Year - 'Leshanah Tovah Tikatevy'
Yom Kippur - the Day of Atonement
Yom Kippur, the most sacred and solemn day of the Jewish year, brings the Days of Repentance to a close.
As well as fasting for 25 hours, Jews spend the day in prayer, asking for forgiveness and resolving to behave better in the future.
Sukkot / Sukkoth
Sukkot commemorates the years that the Jews spent in the desert on their way to the Promised Land. Some lived in tents whilst others built huts out of leaves and branches. These huts were called sukkot.
During the festival, some Jews build their own sukkah in the garden or at the synagogue. Jews eat their meals in the sukkah for the eight or nine days of the festival.
There are rules to making the sukkah. Each sukkah must have at least three walls. The roof of the sukkah must be made of material referred to as sekhakh, which means "covering." Thie 'covering' must be something that grew from the ground and was cut off, such as tree branches, corn stalks, bamboo reeds or sticks. Sekhakh (the roof covering) should be sparse and left loose enough so that the stars can be seen.
There is a special Sukkot service in the synagogue. Everyone holds branches from three trees in their hands and a citron fruit in their right. They walk around the synagogue seven times, waving the branches.
(Sukkah is the singular, Sukkot is the plural)
Hanukkah or Chanukah is the Jewish Festival of Lights. It dates back to two centuries before the beginning of Christianity. It is an eight day holiday starting on the 25th night of the Jewish month of Kislev
Hanukka celebrates the miraculous victory over religious persecution in the Holy Land and also commemorates the re-dedication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem and the miracle of the burning oil. This is where the oil of the menorah (the candelabrum in the temple) miraculously burned for eight days, even though there was only enough oil for one day.
Tisha B'av is a solemn occasion because it commemorates a series of tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people over the years
Tu B'Shevat is the Jewish 'New Year for Trees'. It is one of the four Jewish new years (Rosh Hashanahs).
Yom Hashoah is a day set aside for Jews to remember the Holocaust.
Calendar of Religious Festivals
The story of ancient Egypt has survived for thousands of years. Egypt was one of the greatest civilizations of the past. The monuments and tombs of their Pharaohs continue to stand intact today, some 4,000 years later!
A good portion of the Old testament takes place in or around Egypt. Egypt also plays a major role in the life of many Bible people from Moses and Joseph to Jesus.
Egypt is situated in the northeast corner of the Africa.
A large river called the River Nile flows through the country into the Mediterranean Sea. The Nile enters Egypt from the Sudan and flows north for about 1545 km (about 960 m) to the sea.
The Ancient Egyptians lived along the banks of the river Nile in Egypt. Farmers first settled in Egypt along the River Nile around 5000 B.C.
About 95 % of Egypt's population still live in the Nile valley (the area next to the river).
Egypt is mainly made up of hot deserts and receives little rainfall. Without the River Nile, the area would be entirely desert.
All of Egypt depended on the Nile for water, food and transportation. The Nile also provided the ancient Egyptians with fertile land which helped them to grow their crops and raise their animals.
Before modern dams were built the river Nile would flood each year coating the land on either side of the river with thick back mud. This mud was ideal for growing crops on.
Click here to find out more about the river Nile
The people in Ancient Egypt divided Egypt into two areas.
- The 'red land' was the deserts protecting Egypt on two sides. These deserts separated ancient Egypt from neighbouring countries and invading armies.
- The black land was the fertile land (near the Nile River) where the ancient Egyptians grew their crops.
Two separate kingdoms (ruled by different kings) developed along the Nile River. The kingdom in Upper Egypt was known as the white crown and the kingdom in Lower Egypt was called the red crown. In about 3200 B. C. the pharaoh of the north conquered the south and Egypt became united. The pharaoh's name was King Narmer or Menes.
Menes built a new capital city called Memphis. In the Greek language the word Memphis meant "Balance of the Two Lands."
Ancient Egypt - Map of famous sites
Explore Ancient Egypt on an Interactive Map