Shavuot is coming! Shavuot is the holiday to remember the giving of the Torah. This is a time to remember and to celebrate the provision that God has given us.
What is Shavuot, and how are some ways that we can celebrate this final spring High Holiday?
What is Shavuot?
Shavuot or the Feast of Weeks is the last spring feast of the Lord. It occurs fifty days following the Feast of First Fruits.
Leviticus 23: 15 – 17:
“And ye shall number to yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day on which ye shall offer the sheaf of the heave-offering, seven full weeks: 16 until the morrow after the last week ye shall number fifty days, and shall bring a new meat-offering to the Lord. 17 Ye shall bring from your dwelling loaves, as a heave-offering, two loaves: they shall be of two tenth portions of fine flour, they shall be baked with leaven of the first-fruits to the Lord. ”
We see from these verses how we are to observe this holiday. On the Feast of First Fruits, we start to count fifty days to Shavuot. The loaf offerings were to made with the first fruits of the barley harvest. Lastly, we see how this holiday contrasts with the previous three. Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits are all characterized by the omission of the leavening, however, during Shavuot God tells us to bring an offering made with leavening.
If you want to learn more about Shavuot, I’ll link my more in-depth blog post about this holiday here!
What does it mean to count the omer?
Exodus 34:22: “ And thou shalt keep to me the feast of weeks, the beginning of the wheat harvest; and the feast of ingathering in the middle of the year.”
Leviticus 23: 15 mentions to number the days until Shavuot, some translations say “to count the omer” instead.
The Feast of First Fruits starts the barley harvest, and an omer is a unit of measuring the barley that was gathered. We are supposed to count each day from First Fruits until we have counted seven sabbaths and 49 days. Right after the end of the seventh Sabbath is the day of Shavuot or fifty days after First Fruits.
How to Count the Omer?
I like counting the omer because it is another way to anticipate the holiday of Shavuot every day. A few ways I have counted the omer in the past are by:
- Painting a canvas and using a thumbtack to place a paper circle on the canvas for each of the 50 days. Each day I wrote the day in the paper circle.
- Painting fifty colorful circles on a piece of watercolor paper and writing each day in the circles.
- Writing each day on a chalkboard
Counting the omer each day can be a fun and creative thing you do each day with your family. My nephew likes to help me come up with ideas or write down each of the days.
A few of the ideas listed above came from Land of Honey blog. I love her blog and she has a few more ideas for counting the omer!
Ways of Celebrating Shavuot
Just like with all the High Holidays, Shavuot is to be celebrated as a memorial. Shavuot is the celebration of the giving of the Law and the Holy Spirit, and there a few things we can do on this day to celebrate.
Part of the Biblical celebration of Shavuot was bringing two loaves of bread to the priest as an offering before the Lord. One year, I baked a sourdough loaf and a braided challah loaf. My family and I spread compound butter on the loaves and they were delicious!
Deuteronomy 16: 10: “And thou shalt keep the feast of weeks to the Lord thy God, accordingly as thy hand has power in as many things as the Lord thy God shall give thee.”
Deuteronomy 16: 16 – 17: ” 16 Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the Lord thy God in the place which the Lord shall choose in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: thou shalt not appear before the Lord thy God empty. 17 Each one according to his ability, according to the blessing of the Lord thy God which he has given thee.”
The Lord gives us many blessings and we are to celebrate Shavuot with the blessings he has given us. Giving is one way we can do that. You can give an offering to your favorite Hebrew community. My family and I don’t have a Hebrew community near us so we like to give to Hebrew communities that have blessed us.
The Book of Ruth is traditionally read during the feast of Shavuot because the story occurs during the wheat harvest. You don’t have to read the book of Ruth, but I think it’s fun to read since it occurs during this time in history!
During the third month of the year – Sivan, the Torah was given to us. I believe this a great time to study the Torah.
Shavuot is coming and it will be fun. I like the anticipation of this holiday that starts on the feast of First Fruits and culminates on the day of Shavuot. I like the baking of the two loaves in remembrance of the Biblical offering, and the time to give, rejoice, read, and learn.
It is a blessing to celebrate the spring High Holidays. With much anticipation, we will wait for the fall High Holidays, until then, Shalom!