Last night, the world celebrated the beginning of the secular New Year of 2019. If you enjoyed celebrating, you can actually do so four more times this year. To my surprise, the Jewish people actually observe four New Year’s celebrations each year!
Here are the four Jewish New Year's celebrations:
- The 15th of Shevat is known as Tu B’Shevat, the New Year for trees. This year, it falls on January 20-21. Tu B’Shevat is the day used to determine the age of the trees…it’s their birthday, no matter when they were “born”! Unlike the first of Nisan and the first of Elul, Tu B’Shevat is still widely observed as a minor Jewish holiday. At the J, our Growing Jewish Families program has lots of Tu B'Shevat events this month. Visit them on Facebook or check out our online calendar for details.
- The 1st of the month of Nisan is considered to be like a new year, as it is the first month on the Jewish calendar (according to the Torah). Nisan coincides with March–April on the secular calendar. The Torah calls it chodesh ha-aviv—the month of spring, as it marks the beginning of the spring months. It is in this month that we celebrate the eight-day holiday of Passover, from the 15th through the 22nd of Nisan, commemorating the Jewish people’s miraculous redemption from slavery in Egypt, and the birth of the Jewish nation.
- The 1st of Elul: In early rabbinic writings, various customs arose sometime during the first millennium that designated Elul as the time to prepare for the High Holy Days (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur). According to the Mishnah, this was the new year for animal tithes. It was used to determine the start date for the animal tithe to the priestly class in ancient Israel, similar to how we use April 15th in the U.S. as tax day. Generally, this new year's day is no longer observed.
- 1st of Tishrei: Rosh Hashanah falls during the month of Tishrei, and literally meaning the "head [of] the year." We typically refer to it as the Jewish New Year. Unlike festivities with fireworks, drinking, and feasting, Rosh Hashanah, the most widely observed Jewish New Year, is marked with heartfelt prayer.
And, then, as Americans, we typically celebrate the secular new year. Counting last night and today, you can reasonably say there are five New Years! So, if you don't keep your resolutions for one, there is always another one coming up! Regardless, we wish you a happy secular New Year from the J and a year filled with lots of love, luck, health, and friendship! See you at the J!