Traditional food during the Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year

Although the calendar with which we Westerners move, the Gregorian, has been extended throughout the world for a long time, there are others even older that continue to be valid today for millions of people. They correspond to different cultures usually linked to different religions, as is the case with Judaism. He Rosh Hashanah is the celebration of the Jewish New Year, and has associated a whole series of traditional foods and foods.

Last January we already commented on some of the typical meals with which the new year is received in different countries. Religion, tradition and culture are inevitably linked, and also food, which takes on a symbolic and ritual character. These questions arouse my curiosity historian, much more if they relate to food. Jewish customs are not well known in our country, and that is why I consider it interesting that let's get closer to traditional food of Rosh Hashanah.

Origin and Meaning

Rosh Hashanah, or Rosh Hashanah (ראש השנה in Hebrew), literally means "head" or "first" of the year "and refers to the New Year of Judaism. The first and second day of Tishrei is celebrated, the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar, and this year corresponds to the fifth of September. Actually, the events begin the day before and last until the evening of the next day.

According to Jewish tradition, from the sacred texts collected in the Torah, the Tishrei month is the first of the year because it commemorates when God created the world and also the first man. This year the arrival of the year 5774 is celebrated, beginning the night of September 4 with the sound of shofar, a ram's horn that calls for meditation, for they are days of introspection, recollection and repentance.

Food for a sweet year

As in all religions, the festivities of Judaism are associated with certain foods and dishes whose consumption is not only a custom, but they have symbolic and ritual character. Most of them are harmoniously linked to the natural calendar of the seasons, with products that already announce to us the autumn, although this year the Rosh Hashanah has fallen somewhat soon.

Many of the foods consumed during these days emphasize the symbolism with the wishes that the new year is conducive, that is, sweet foods are enhanced. Apple, honey and pomegranate, products that we associate with the comforting autumn cuisine, are some of the most used ingredients around these holidays. One of the simplest and typical ways is simply to take apple pieces dipped in honey, as a wish for a sweet year.

Food symbolism

Throughout the centuries and in different parts of the world different customs have developed around the ritual and symbolic meals They share the different Jewish communities. Some dishes have been maintained since time immemorial as they pass their tradition through the generations, while more modern ones are imposed as new ways of celebrating their faith. As a common link you can find key ingredients that have a strong symbolic load.

Many of the meals derive from the plate of the Seder. Is about a plate full of symbolism For the elements that form it are related to the feelings of remembrance and commemoration of the events of the Exodus of the Jewish people during Ancient Egypt. There are six foods consumed following a specific ritual, the seventh element being a set of matzos, a type of flat bread, placed separately on the table. The traditional Jewish braided bread, Challah, is another typical product that is not usually missing.

Among the traditional ingredients we can find vegetables and herbs bitter, pickles, lamb or chicken, cooked egg, or mixtures of nuts. As more specific foods of the New Year, vegetables such as leek, beet, spinach, carrots and squash. Among the fruits, in addition to the aforementioned apples and pomegranate, the date has a great presence, and fish is also important, which often serves the head.

Interestingly, the symbolism of much of these foods derives from language itself. For example, the term designating beet in Hebrew is selek, which resembles lesalek, "disappear." That is why tradition points out reciting some verses after their intake that ask God to make enemies disappear. And the same happens with other meals, many of which they have associated concrete blessings.

As is currently the case with Catholicism and other religions, many of the traditional rites have been adapted over time. In this way, each family maintains its specific traditions, and this is also shown in the food. While some prefer to be more strict with respect to the original customs, in other homes they adapt by creating their own typical dishes. The usual thing is to find in each family an own recipe for an apple pie or a sweet bread with nuts, honey and spices. Even today many of the traditional menus are adapted to diets such as vegetarian.

Religions interest me as a historian because of the fundamental influence it has on the culture of each people, and how it manifests itself in art and gastronomy. Although today their presence in our country is discreet, the Jews are also part of our past and I think it is interesting to at least get a little closer to their customs, such as those that are part of the Rosh Hashanah and its traditional meals.

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