Many Jewish communities in Canada the first day of Sukkot (Succot, Succoth, Sukkoth), which is the start of the Sukkot period. This period, also known as the Feast of Tabernacles, lasts for about seven days. It is observed during the week starting on the 15th day of Tishri (or Tishrei), which is the first month of the year in the Jewish calendar.
Is the First day of Sukkot a Public Holiday?
The first day of Sukkot is not a public holiday. Businesses have normal opening hours.
What Do People Do?
Many Jewish Canadians build a temporary booth known as the sukkah, which is where they eat, sleep and use for the Sukkot period, which lasts for about seven days. The first day of Sukkot is kept as the Sabbath so many Jewish people do not engage in certain work activities on this day. Some people of the Jewish faith may plan a day off work on the first day of Sukkot. Some do not use electricity on the day because they believe that fire is banned on the Sabbath. The rest of the days during the Sukkot period are days when work is permitted.
Many Jewish communities in Canada also observe a religious duty, or mitzvah, known as waving the four species (of plants) and reciting a blessing. This deed is usually performed each day during Sukkot (except for the Sabbath).
The first day of Sukkot is not a nationwide public holiday in Canada. However, many Jewish businesses, schools and organizations may be closed or offer a reduced level of service.
The Sukkot period is a time to remember the Jewish people’s wandering in the desert for 40 years following their exodus from Egypt, according to Jewish teachings. It is also a time to celebrate the grape harvest. Some sources claim that Sukkot lasts for about seven days while others state that it is an eight-day festival. The seventh day of Sukkot is known as Hoshana Rabbah while the eighth day is known as Shmini Atzeret and the day after is called Simchat Torah.
An important Sukkot symbol is the sukkah. This is a temporary structure with a roof made of sechach or s’chach, which is raw, unfinished plant material, such as palm branches, bamboo poles, reeds or even corn stalks.
The “four species” are also important symbols of Sukkot and represent the blessings of nature. These are lulav (a green, closed frond of a date palm tree), hadass (twigs and leaves from a myrtle tree), aravah (twigs and leaves from a willow tree) and etrog (a lemon-like fruit of the citron tree).
Jewish Holidays Last Longer Outside of Israel
In the Jewish diaspora—Jewish communities outside of Israel—an extra day is usually added to religious observances, with the exception of Yom Kippur, which lasts only one day worldwide, and Rosh Hashana, which is celebrated over two days in both Israel and the diaspora.
This custom has its roots in ancient times when the beginning of the months in the Jewish calendar still relied on the sighting of the crescent Moon following a New Moon.
The beginning of a new month was determined by the Sanhedrin, the supreme court of ancient Israel in Jerusalem. Once the date was published, messengers were dispatched to spread the news among Jews living abroad. Since this process took some time, it was decreed that Jews outside of ancient Israel were to observe every holiday for 2 days to make sure that the rules and customs applicable to each holiday were observed on the proper date. This rule is still observed today.