As another year of the Hebrew calendar comes to a close, it’s time to look back and reflect. Rosh Hashanah, aka the Jewish New Year, brings with it the opportunity to count your blessings and improve your spiritual well-being. It’s also a time to look to the next 12 months with anticipation and to celebrate how far you’ve come.
So, how can you make your Rosh Hashanah celebrations just as sweet as your reflections?
Welcoming a new year calls for joyous moments with your closest friends and family. You can indulge in decadent foods, participate in ancient traditions, bring the family together with holiday activities, and spark deep and delightful conversations to kick off a new year of blessings.
Whether your celebration leads you to the synagogue or happens in your own home, knowing how to celebrate Rosh Hashanah can help you cultivate a holiday rich with cheer.
Traditions to partake in during Rosh Hashanah
Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the Jewish High Holidays and occurs a week before Yom Kippur. While this holiday might involve a good deal of contemplation and repentance, it’s also a time to rejoice with those you love most.
Many Rosh Hashanah traditions can help you and your family bond and spark gratitude for one another, from feasting together on fish heads, pomegranates, and challah bread to sounding the shofar or giving back to the community. Here are ideas to ring in the new year by practicing cherished traditions that shed light on life’s greatest gifts:
— Say “shana tova” to your loved ones: Like many holidays, Rosh Hashanah has its own special greeting. The phrase shana tova means good year in Hebrew and is often used by people celebrating Rosh Hashanah to share warm wishes for the year to come.
— Light candles before sundown: Welcome the holiday spirit into your home by lighting candles. Recite blessings as you light your candles to cultivate a beautiful atmosphere.
— Prepare a feast: One of the most coveted Rosh Hashanah traditions involves a hearty dinner. Celebrate the bountiful gifts of life with seasonal and traditional dishes to delight the senses.
— Wear new clothes: Many celebrate Rosh Hashanah by incorporating something new into their life. Give your wardrobe a refresh or try a new style as you head into the upcoming year. After all, a sweet new outfit can help your spirit soar.
— Perform Tashlich: Tashlich is a ceremony in which participants cast away their sins before a body of water. You can practice Tashlich by gathering your friends or family at a nearby pond or lake and throwing pieces of bread or another offering into the water. (Of course, you should check with local authorities to make sure this is permitted where you are.) This practice offers a cathartic experience for you and your family to take on together. Step into this year feeling unburdened and ready to create positive change.
Image via Adobe; “Painted Pomegranates” by Paperless Post.
— Listen to a shofar: Awaken your spirit with the traditional sound of a shofar. Traditionally made from a ram’s horn, this instrument remains a sacred artifact used for Rosh Hashanah worship services. Let the blows resonate through the crowd as a reminder of God’s commandment.
— Go to temple: Take your friends and family to a traditional Rosh Hashanah synagogue service. You can celebrate the new year with your community and share tales and blessings from the past year.
— Donate to charity: Though not strictly a Rosh Hashanah tradition, those of Jewish faith often celebrate holidays by giving money to worthy causes. Give cash in multiples of 18 to honor the recipient with the number that symbolizes luck or “the gift of life.”
“Balaustine” by John Derian for Paperless Post; Image by Barry Kester.
— Recite the Kiddush: Before sitting down to your exquisite Rosh Hashanah feast, recite a prayer or “kiddush” to bless the food and drink.
Respect for tradition remains a significant pillar of the Jewish faith. In addition to the well-wishes of the new year, sharing these practices with others can help you feel more connected to your community.
Sweet foods to serve at a Rosh Hashanah dinner
Festive meals make up a substantial part of the Rosh Hashanah celebration. This holiday celebrates God’s gifts, and delicious foods present an opportunity to enjoy them thoroughly. To craft your own Rosh Hashanah dinner, lay out your dining room table with food dripping in sweetness and cultural significance.
Planning and preparing dishes can give you and your friends and family quality bonding time. Chat about your wishes for the coming year while braiding your challah.
Make sure these food items make it to the table for a well-rounded Rosh Hashanah tradition:
Image by Rebekah Lowin; “Sweet Wreath” by Paperless Post.
— Apples: Have a sweet new year courtesy of delicious apples. While this fruit is popular during Rosh Hashanah for its natural sweetness (and its seasonality), it’s also known to reference the Garden of Eden. Apples dipped in honey remain a popular treat for most Rosh Hashanah feasts. However, you can incorporate apples in any way you’d like. Try making an apple cake, pie, crisp, or caramel apples to spice up your dessert section.
— Honey: Dip your apples in honey for extra sweetness, or infuse other unique dishes with this saccharine substance. Dish out some honey-roasted carrots, honey chicken, or honey cake for a decadent day of eating.
— Pomegranates: Pomegranates hold importance due to their large amounts of seeds. On Rosh Hashanah, Jewish people eat pomegranates with the hope that the new year will be full of many merits, or mitzvahs, just as a pomegranate is full of seeds. Try this pomegranate-braised lamb shank recipe to delight your guests.
— Brisket: If you’re looking for a showstopper, a brisket may be the centerpiece of your meal. Brisket is a tender and flavorful dish when cooked to perfection. If you don’t have your own brisket recipe, ask your family and community members if they can share their favorite.
“Honey and Challah” by Paperless Post; 7-stranded round challah instructions by Joy Huang.
— Round Challah: It’s traditional to eat challah for several Jewish holidays. However, on Rosh Hashanah, give your challah a festive twist by baking it in a round shape. Round challah signifies the cyclical nature of life.
— Fish: Allow fish to grace your dinner table as the main course. Serving fish holds biblical significance, recognizing God’s gifts and reminding those who eat it of their responsibility to do better in the new year. And leave the head on, if possible, to symbolize that, in the coming year, “we should be the head and not the tail.”
Feel the love and warmth of sharing a feast with your friends and family. You may fill up in more ways than one.
Ideas for your Rosh Hashanah decorations
Every Rosh Hashanah feast is a highlight of the celebrations on its own. However, feel free to liven up the atmosphere with decorative elements—and candles are just the start.
Welcome the High Holidays with beautiful Rosh Hashanah-inspired decor to complement your feast. Using special tableware, centerpieces, or wall decor can add some flair to your festivities.
Try these festive additions for your celebrations:
— Table runner: Dressing up your dining room table with a table runner will bring your feast to life. Red, white, and gold colors can enhance the natural hues of a traditional Rosh Hashanah meal.
— Colorful tableware: Go big and bold for your feast with a colorful table display. Cheers to the new year with beautiful multicolored glassware, and after your blessings, dig in with a golden cutlery set.
Image via Pinterest; “Pom Hashanah” by Paperless Post.
— Table displays: Decorate your table with beautifully sliced pomegranates or whole apples. Celebrate the earth’s bounty with gold plates to make your dishes stand out in a whole new way. Then bring the final look together with floral centerpieces.
— Decorative platters: We hope you and your guests saved room for dessert. Serve your famous apple pie on a lovely decorative cake stand to help it rise above the rest.
— Wall decor: Why stop at the dinner table? Go all out with decorations around the room. Hang adornments like streamers, tinsel, and banners proclaiming “Shana tova!” for an extra-celebratory feel.
Cultivating a festive feeling at the dinner table and in the dining room can liven up your whole meal. Let the good tidings of the new year rain down like glittering tinsel.
Send out Rosh Hashanah celebration invitations
Your Rosh Hashanah feast wouldn’t be complete without your loving friends and family joining you at the table. Reach out to those you love with a stunning invitation that captures the excitement of the holiday. Our online Rosh Hashanah cards aren’t just convenient and hassle-free, but they’re beautiful, too.
Here are some invitations to spark inspiration:
— Honey and Challah: Celebrate everything sweet and wonderful with a card sure to make your guests’ mouths water.
— Shofar Shout: Sound the alarm with an invitation to ring through the crowd and ring in the new year.
— Challah Bout It: Go with a cute and quirky Rosh Hashanah card to bring smiles to your friends and family.
— Pom Hashanah: Wish your guests a good year and guarantee a good time with this beautiful Rosh Hashanah invitation.
— Honey Dipper: Let the good times flow like honey. Opt for a classic, golden invitation to add some shine to the new year.
Whether you’re preparing a three-course meal or simply want to share your homemade honey cake, Paperless Post online invitations will spark joy and gratitude for any guest.
“Sound the Shofar” Flyer by Paperless Post.
Say “shana tova” with Paperless Post
Rosh Hashanah is all about reflecting on the good tidings you’ve received in your life. Use this holiday as a reason to express gratitude for everyone who helped nurture those blessings.
With Paperless Post online invitations, sharing your blessings with family and friends has never been easier. For those who can’t celebrate with you in person, send Rosh Hashanah greeting cards with all your blessings for the coming year.
We know the importance of sharing special and sacred occasions with the people you love. Start your new year off on a sweet note with any of our beautiful and easy-to-customize Rosh Hashanah invitations.