ROSH HASHANAH

Rosh Hashanah Jewish holiday 2020: what does ‘Shana Tova’ mean?

Jewish New Year is being celebrated this weekend from 18-20 September – a two-day event which marks the first day of the Jewish New Year.

Rosh Hashanah Jewish holiday 2020: what does ‘Shana Tova’ mean?
ODD ANDERSEN AFP

Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) is being celebrated this weekend – this year, it started at sundown on Friday 18th; the two-day event which marks the first day of the Jewish new year was heralded by the blowing of the shofar, an ancient ram’s horn. Rosh Hashanah, which will continue through the weekend until nightfall on Sunday, is a time for family and friendship - and also tzedakah - the act of giving to those less fortunate. Rosh Hashanah is nearly always celebrated in September or October. It is celebrated as one day by some denominations and two days by others.

Rosh Hashanah commemorates the creation of the world and marks the beginning of the Days of Awe, a 10-day period of introspection, reflection and making resolutions. It culminates in the Yom Kippur holiday, also known as the Day of Atonement. This weekend will see the conclusion of the Jewish year 5780 and the entering of the year 5781 in the Jewish calendar.

Shana Tova!

The traditional greeting at this time, one of the two High Holy Days in the Jewish religion is Shana Tova! or sometimes said as Shana Tova um’tukah. In Hebrew, the word Shana means 'year' and Tova means 'good' while um’tukah means 'sweet'. So the greeting ‘Shana Tova!’ literally means have a good, sweet year – the English language equivalent of ‘Shana Tova um’tukah!’ would be ‘Have a Happy and prosperous New Year!”.

Sweet foods are traditionally eaten through the celebrations – slices of apple dipped in honey, pomegranate and braided challah bread are traditionally eaten during the celebrations. The challah bread is usually baked in a round shape to symbolize either the cyclical nature of life or the crown of God. Raisins are sometimes added to the dough for a sweet new year. Shana Tova!