Sukkot is one of three original harvest holidays, marked by the building of a sukkah (hut), shaking of the lulav (palm, myrtle and date branches bound together and waved in four directions to symbolize the unity of the world and of people with nature), smelling the etrog (citron), and celebrating together.
The word Sukkot is the plural of the Hebrew word sukkah, meaning booth or hut. During this holiday, Jews are instructed to construct a temporary structure in which to eat their meals, entertain guests, relax, and even sleep. The sukkah is reminiscent of the type of huts in which the ancient Israelites dwelt during their 40 years of wandering in the desert after the Exodus from Egypt, and is intended to reflect God’s benevolence in providing for all the Jews’ needs in the desert.
The sukkah is a temporary building used for meals throughout the holiday. It can be built of any materials, but its roof must be of organic material and partially open to the sky. The decor of the interior of the sukkah can range from totally unornamented to lavishly decorated.
Traditions of Sukkot include gathering fruits and vegetables with which to decorate the Sukkah; decorating the Sukkah as a group; music, stories and meaningful appreciation for all the bounty in our lives; and a delicious potluck lunch. It is a great family event, especially when there’s good weather!