Why do people eat apples and honey on Rosh Hashanah?

Jewish holidays are rich with symoblism and cultural expression. Rosh Hashanah is no exception. Read on to learn why certain foods are commonplace at Rosh Hashanah celebrations and how the symbolic morsels can be incorporated into other traditional dishes in new and exciting ways.

Why do people eat apples and honey on Rosh Hashanah?

Explaining the apple and honey

The reason why you eat apples and honey on Rosh Hashanah is because you're asking God to give you a sweet or happy new year. This tradition is based on ancient Jewish teachings. A blessing is given as the apple is dipped into the honey and eaten.

  • Ancient Jewish teachings state that the Garden of Eden was permeated with a strong aroma of apples and in some writings is known as "the holy apple orchard."
  • Rosh Hashanah is the celebration of creation, and is the anniversary of the creation of humankind with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. In addition, King Solomon, in his Song of Songs, links the love of God and the apple tree.
  • Honey represents wealth and good living, and was regarded as a precious commodity in ancient times.
  • By dipping the slices of sweet apple into the even sweeter honey, folk remind God of his love for the Jewish people and express their hope for a new year that is pleasant and enjoyable.

Blessing the apple and honey

Eat apples and honey on the first night of Rosh Hashanah. Firstly, thank God for the apples:

"Blessed are you, Lord, our God, king of the universe who creates the fruit of the tree."

Next, dip a slice of apple into the honey and take a bite. Then, say the second part of the blessing:

"May it be your will, Lord our God and God of our ancestors that you renew for us a good and sweet year."

Other ways to include apples and honey on Rosh Hashanah

There are various ways to include these delicious edible treats in Rosh Hashanah celebrations.

Challah. The braided egg bread, which is served on Shabbat, is shaped into a spiral — symbolizing the continuity of creation — for Rosh Hashanah and honey is often added before baking to make the bread extra sweet.

Honey cakes. These are often based on a traditional recipe that has been passed down through the generations. Ingredients may include a variety of spices, such as allspice, cloves and cinnamon, as well as honey, coffee, tea, or orange juice.

Honey dip. Serve this on the second night of Rosh Hashanah. Blend one cup of plain yoghurt and eight teaspoons of honey. Garnish with a sprinkle of ground cinnamon and serve with sliced apples.

Apple and honey juice. Juice one cored and peeled apple and add three tablespoons of honey, two tablespoons of fresh lemon juice and one tablespoon of water. Quarter fill a glass with the blended juice, add seltzer and ice.

Celebrate Rosh Hashanah with the sweetness of apples and honey. Let them lead you into a year of good things.

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