Sukkot: The History and Traditions by Xela, age 13
Beginning five days after Yom Kippur, Sukkot is a major Jewish festival that has both historical and agricultural significance. Historically, it commemorates the 40 years the Israelites wandered in the desert and lived in temporary shelters. The name Sukkot is the plural of 'sukkah', meaning booth. Agriculturally, Sukkot marks the end of the fall harvest and is a festival of thanksgiving.
Most of the popular rituals practiced at home during Sukkot are great for all ages. The Torah tells us the Israelites dwelt in booths in the desert. As a result, we celebrate Sukkot by building a sukkah for the duration of the week-long festival. Children can help decorate the sukkah or assist in the preparation of food to eat in the sukkah. Kids of all ages can help wave the lulav, a bunch of willow, myrtle, and palm leaves traditionally waved with an etrog, or citron. It is customary to eat, sleep, and visit in the sukkah, and it is a great way to have fun as a family.
If your family builds a sukkah or if you’re visiting one at a friend or family member’s home, here are some ideas of things you can do.
- Make paper chains, blow up balloons, or hang streamers to decorate the sukkah.
- Take sleeping bags out to the sukkah at night to see the stars.
- Have a 'sukkah hop': spend a day visiting sukkot in your community.
- Make a meal or just a snack, and eat in the sukkah. Check out these great snacks including an edible sukkah!
If you want to build a sukkah, remember to ask an adult for permission first, and then for help.
However you choose to celebrate Sukkot, remember that hundreds of people around the world are celebrating with you (which is pretty cool when you think about it)! Have fun, and Chag Sukkot Sameach!
Xela is a member of the 2019 National Content Team.