Yes, There are A Lot of Jewish Holidays

 

Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t be both a good Jew and loyal Canadian. As I wrote in my previous post, it’s perfectly fine to observe secular and national holidays with an open heart.

 

So go ahead and mark your calendars for important Jewish and Canadian holidays in 2015.

 

Secular, Canadian, and Jewish Holidays to Note in 2015

 

Since Jewish holidays always begin and end at sundown, be sure to double-check your calendars. Some mass-produced ones give the incorrect day for the start of our holidays.

 

The first major Jewish holiday in 2015 is Tu B’Shevat on February 4. This holiday marks the beginning of a new year for trees—in Israel, not in Canada. Some people have Seders similar to Pesach. Many treat themselves to fruits from Israel like pomegranates, dates, and figs.

 

In Ontario, February 16 is Family Day, which we usually spend sledding with the kids and consuming hot drinks. Pomegranate tea, anyone? (see recipe below)

 

March 4 marks the start of the Purim holiday, when it’s ok to let the kids dress up like it’s Halloween.

 

April is a BIG holiday month for the Jewish community because it marks Pesach, or Passover, which begins on the Shabbat evening of April. It lasts until sundown April 11.

 

Some Jewish families invite Christian friends to a Seder meal. This year, however, the first Seder happens to be on Good Friday. Plan your meal accordingly since many Christians don’t consume meat on any Friday and especially not on Good Friday. Or invite them for the second Seder.

 

May brings Victoria Day on the 18th, less than a week before Shavuot, which begins on the 23rd and ends on the 25th. Shavuot commemorates Moses’ presentation of the Ten Commandments. Anyone who thinks they are difficult to follow should take a look at some of the rules Queen Victoria imposed on her family and friends.

 

Don’t forget Mother’s Day on May 10. Honor thy mother and take her to brunch.

 

The Jewish calendar is quiet over the summer, but not the Canadian one!

 

  • July 1 is Canada Day, which falls on a Tuesday this year. Go and enjoy the parades and invite friends for a barbecue. Here’s a list of breweries that are certified kosher by COR.
  • The long August weekend includes Monday, August 4. Perhaps our Toronto rabbis can decide if it should be called Simcoe Day, T.O. Day, or 6 Day.
  • Labour Day remains the first Monday in September.

 

September-October is a very busy time on the Jewish calendar:

 

  • Days of Awe begin with Rosh Hashanah, our New Year, on September 15,
  • They run through Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which falls on September 22-23.
  • We barely have time to catch our breath and build a sukkah for the Sukkot harvest festival, which runs for a week from September 27 to October 4.
  • Incredibly, Simchat Torah starts just as Sukkot ends.

 

Thanksgiving comes on the heels of these holidays on the second Monday of October. Your sukkah is probably still up so why not have one last meal in it?

 

We round out the Jewish calendar with Chanukah, which runs from December 6 -14. And while the nation observes Christmas Day as a holiday, only Ontario officially observes Boxing Day on December 26, conveniently on a Friday in 2015.

 

Pomegranate Tea

 

If you can get a pomegranate, take the time to carefully separate the seeds from the rind. Here’s a good video on opening and de-seeding a pomegranate.

 

DoItYourself.com offers this pomegranate tea recipe for these cold winter months.

 

Strain the pomegranate seeds and put them in a blender. Put it on the pulse setting until seeds are well-pulped.

 

Pour the pulp through a very fine strainer or better yet, use cheese cloth. Add the juice to your usual tea instead of milk and sugar. You can also add to iced tea in the summer months.