Happy Biblical New Year! This is my favorite time of the year, not only because the weather is warming up but because this is such a fun season of joy and celebration with the arrival of the High Holidays.
I’ll link the printable for all the Hebrew High Holiday dates for 2023 here if you want to print it out for reference!
As usual, this will be an overview of the High Holidays and dates. Rosh Chodesh or the new moon determines the beginning of each month of the Biblical calendar. As I’m writing right now, it’s the last day of the 12th month of Adar, and I hope to spot the crescent moon tonight!
The new moon looks like a tiny sliver in the western sky right above the horizon just after sunset. It’s easy to miss because it’s so tiny and doesn’t shine that much light, but when you spot it, it’s very fun to see! I usually see the crescent moon on the second day of the month because by then the sliver is large enough to be visible even when’s completely dark out.
The traditional calendar, most of the time is pretty spot on with its new moon dates. Because of this, I like to use it as a guide and then use other resources and my own eyes to determine when to celebrate the holidays. Sometimes it’s plus or minus a day off from the traditional calendar. It’s hard to know for sure when to celebrate the holidays, but we’re trying our best and that’s all that matters!
I look at RenewedMoon.com pretty regularly because it shows when someone has spotted the new moon with their own eyes around the world. They have sections for both worldwide sightings of the new moon(which is usually spotted first) and just Israel-based sightings.
Regardless of which method you use, I hope you have a very happy and blessed holiday season!
Overview of the Spring Holidays
I have blog posts on all these holidays so if you want to learn more in-depth about each one I’ll link the posts under each holiday!
All the holidays start at sundown on the date listed!
Biblical New Year – (1st Nisan) March 22nd
Nisan or Aviv is the first month of the Biblical calendar. It is essential to determine this month because 14 days later we observe Passover and the rest of the Spring holidays.
Passover – (Nisan 14th) April 4th – 5th
Passover has to be my favorite out of all the High Holidays. It has so much meaning and I really feel connected to God and a tiny bit to what that experience must have been like for our forefathers.
This is the night when the Hebrews were passed over from destruction by the angel of death by spreading the blood of the Pascal lamb on their doorposts. That night is commemorated in a meal with roast lamb, unleavened bread, and bitter herbs.
Unleavened Bread – (Nisan 15th – 21st) April 5th – 12th
This is the day that the Children of Israel actually left Egypt and crossed the Red Sea. This day starts the 7-day feasting holiday where the first and last days are sabbath-rest days. You treat them like regular sabbath days but they can occur on any day of the week during the holiday.
The feast of Unleavened Bread and the next holiday (First Fruits) are often times referred to collectively as ‘Passover’ because they occur during the same week and you can’t have leavening during any of them.
Speaking of leavening. We get rid of all the leavening from our homes even before Passover starts. Instead of eating yeasty bread, crackers, and baked goods, we eat unleavened bread every day for seven days.
First Fruits – (Day after Sabbath during Unleavened Bread ) April 8th – 9th
First Fruits occurs during Unleavened Bread on the day after the weekly Sabbath. This is the day when the High Priest would wave a sheave of the ‘first fruits’ of the barley harvest before Elohim. After this offering, the children of Israel were able to eat the new grain (Leviticus 23: 14).
It’s not a rest day, and since we aren’t able to perform this offering today, you could spend the day in prayer and giving God thanks for the things in your life!
One of my favorite parts about this holiday is the annual counting of the days(Sefirat HaOmer) leading up to the last spring holiday of Shavuot, which is 7 Shabbats + 1 day away!
Second Passover – (Iyar 14th) May 4th – 5th
The Second Passover was instituted in Numbers 9: 1- 14 because there were some priests who had been ceremonially unclean because they had touched a dead body and therefore couldn’t be a part of the Passover celebration in the month of Nisan. God told Moses that they could observe the Passover by eating unleavened bread and bitter herbs in the second month -Iyar on the 14th.
This became the day when regular people and priests could take part in Passover who couldn’t in Nisan because they were either on a long journey or were unclean. These are the only reasons to celebrate this second Passover, otherwise, it must be celebrated in the first month!
Shavuot (Occurs on Saturday night, depends on First Fruits) May 27th – 28th
Shavuot or the Feast of Weeks is the last of the Spring High Holidays. This feast day celebrates the Wheat Harvest and again the provision of God and commemorates the giving of the Law of the Hebrews at Mount Sinai. Shavuot is another one of my favorite holidays. I love the counting towards it and the preparation and expectation of the Torah. It was given in just a dramatic and remarkable way (Exodus 19), and it is very fun to celebrate!
One important note: this holiday occurs in the same month as giving the of the Torah but the text doesn’t explicitly state that this event is why we celebrate Shavuot.
Fall High Holidays
The fall high holidays occur right after the other occurring from September – October. They are fun, reflective, mournful, and full of hope and expectation.
You can find the full introduction to the Fall High Holidays here!
Yom Teruah 1st Tishrei (September 15th – 16th)
Yom Teruah also known as the Feast of Trumpets is the day for blowing the shofar. This is a day of celebration, feasting, and rejoicing! And it’s a Shabbat rest day.
Yom Kippur Tishrei 10th (September 24th – 25th)
The Day of Atonement. This was the only day our sins could be completely atoned for by the High Priest inside the Holy of Holies. Today, as in the past, is a day of strict rest, prayer, affliction, self-denial, and mourning.
If you want some Yom Kippur menu ideas for before, during (if you are not fasting), or after this holy day – I got you.
Sukkot Tishrei 15th – 22nd (September 29th – October 7th)
Sukkot or the Feast of Tabernacles commemorates the time when Elohim caused our forefathers to dwell in booths or tents when they were in the wilderness. The 1st and 8th days are Shabbat-rest days.
This is a fun time to celebrate with your friends and family inside your own tent or booth during this feasting holiday.
And that’s it! If you want the printable version of all of these Biblical holidays, don’t forget to download it here! Let me know which holiday is your favorite. Shalom!