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Holidays in Israel: What You Need To Know

November 28, 2021
Did you know that Israel has a lot of public holidays? And they're not the same universal ones that most of the world celebrate too. Israel is quite a unique country, in that its own culture, customs, and traditions are unlike any other. That also includes the holidays they celebrate. Since the country is approximately 99% Jewish, many of the popular Christian holidays aren't as significant here. The ones they do commemorate often are related to the Jewish faith or are important to the country's history and heritage. Here are a few you might want to know about if you have plans of going here soon.
Holidays in Israel: What You Need To Know

Election Days

When the country of Israel holds elections, they make a holiday out of it, literally! Though it's not a celebratory holiday, but rather more public, it's definitely one that most of-age people partake in. Unlike in other countries, wherein election days are just like normal days, Israel halts everything just so that the people can vote. Israeli banks, government offices, companies, universities, schools, and more take the day off just for this special occasion. After all, everyone is expected to fulfill their civic duty. It's only fair that they're given a free day to go to the polls and let their voices be heard.

First Day of Passover (Every April)

While the Christian world celebrates the Lenten season during either March or April, the Jews celebrate a different religious season: Passover. It's a fifteen-day holy season commemorating the Israelites' Exodus from Egypt. Also known as 'Pesach I,' the first day of Passover is one of its most important days. Most families gather together for a traditional banquet called the 'seder' where, among other things, they remember the tale of the Exodus of their ancestors and their journey to return to the 'Holy Land.' The main course for this meal is the matzoh, unleavened flatbread that was said to have been the food the Israelites ate during their Exodus.

Holidays in Israel: What You Need To Know

Independence Day (Every April or May)

Also called 'Yom Ha'atzma'ut,' the Israelis celebrate their own Independence Day every spring. Though unlike those in other countries, they don't have a specific date for it every year. What's consistent is that it's often celebrated in the month of April or May. Why is this so? Because the actual date of when the country declared its own independence, May 14, 1948, was on the Sabbath. According to Jewish law, no other holiday should fall on this Holy Day, so the country has since replaced it to be held on every 5 Iyar according to the Jewish calendar.

Victory in Europe Day (May 9)

It's no secret that the Jews were the most tragic victims (and casualties) of the Second World War. The Nazi Party from Germany specifically targeted Jewish communities and murdered and massacred them in what has become the infamous 'Holocaust.' So when the Allied Forces in Europe defeated the Nazis back in 1945, it's not hard to see why Israel would want to celebrate it as a national holiday. And so, since 2017, Victory in Europe Day became a public holiday in Israel. On this day, from any district in Tel Aviv to any neighborhood in Jerusalem, Israelis take a day off and reflect on that historic event.

Holidays in Israel: What You Need To Know

Rosh Hashanah (Every September)

While the rest of the world celebrates New Year's Day on January 1, Israel celebrates it every September. At times it's on the earlier parts of the month, other times, it's on the latter parts or even the last day of September. That's because the Jewish calendar is far from the Gregorian calendar that the rest of the world, especially Christian countries, follow. Days within the Jewish calendar aren't marked by specific dates, per se, but rather dictated more by the season. And every September, that's when they start a new year ahead. Furthermore, the New Year's in this calendar consists of two days, not just one!

Simchat Torah (Every October)

Just like how there's a cycle to Gospel readings in Catholic masses and Christian churches, the Jewish calendar also dictates the cycle of the Torah readings. And every October, that cycle ends and starts anew. This is when the Simchat Torah holiday is celebrated. Meaning 'rejoicing of the Torah,' this day marks the end of a year-long cycle of Torah readings held in synagogues across the country. It's a source of jubilation for most religious folks, commemorating it by removing the scrolls from the arc and parading them around the synagogue. And you won't just see this in Israel, but in other synagogues around the world as well!

Holidays in Israel: What You Need To Know

It's safe to say that Israel, probably, has some of the most unique holidays out there. Ones that only the countries, as well as Jewish communities around the world, celebrate on their own. And it'd be a unique experience to witness or even take part in them when you're in the country!

Holidays in Israel are best spent in your luxury home. Make sure you choose one for yourself before you go here!

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