Dates and Origins of Sukkot
Sukkot Dates in 2018, 2019 and 2020
Sukkot is celebrated at the following dates:
- from Sunday, September 23rd in the evening, to Saturday, October 13th 2018
- from Sunday, October 13th in the evening, to Tuesday, October 22nd 2019
- from Friday, October 2nd in the evening, to Sunday, October 11th 2020
Sukkot is observed on the 15th day of the month of Tishrei, which falls in September or late October. It is considered one of the three pilgrimage festivals. Sukkot is both agricultural and religious in nature.
In the book of Exodus, Sukkot refers to the "Feast of Ingathering at the year's end," marking the end of the agricultural year in Israel. In the book of Leviticus, Sukkot signifies the Exodus from Egypt and the dependence of the People of Israel on God's will while traveling through the desert for 40 years.
Sukkot is celebrated slightly differently in Israel where it lasts for seven days and in the Jewish diaspora where it lasts for eight. The first day is considered a Shabbat in Israel, whereas the diaspora celebrates the first and second day as such. The final two days of Sukkot are Shabbat in the Jewish diaspora, though in Israel it is the last day. The days during Sukkot between the Shabbats are called Chol HaMoed, meaning that most work is permitted while the holiday is being observed although some is not.
During Sukkot, a Sukkah is constructed that has a roof made of organic material. This material is generally of the Four Species that are specified in Jewish literature, though the exact species can vary somewhat. It is customary for all meals to be eaten in the Sukkah and for the males of the family to sleep there, except in the case of rain. During this time, a prayer is said every day over the Lulav (the closed palm of the Date Palm tree) and the Etrog (a yellow citrus fruit).
Special prayers are made during Sukkot including a reading of the Torah, reciting an additional morning prayer called a Mussaf, reciting Hallel and several additions to the Grace after Meal and Amidah. Hoshanot prayers are recited alongside Psalm 118:25 while worshippers walk around the synagogue carrying their four species. This prayer commemorates the willow ceremony at the temple of Jerusalem. The Ushpizin is recited to invite one of the seven exalted guests into the Sukkah. Each day, a different guest representing the seven shepherds of Israel (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph and David), leads the other six. Each Ushpizin teaches a unique spiritual focus.