Rosh HaShanah is the Jewish New Year and is one of the most important holidays on the Hebrew calendar. Like many Jewish holidays, Rosh HaShanah has a wealth of food customs associated with its celebration. For instance, it is common to eat sweet foods on Rosh HaShanah to symbolize our hopes for a “Sweet New Year.”
This article contains a brief overview of some of Rosh HaShanah’s symbolic foods as well as links to recipes you can make as part of your holiday celebration. For more in depth information about Rosh HaShanah foods please visit: Rosh HaShanah Food Customs.
Apples and Honey
Eating apples dipped in honey is a quintessential Rosh HaShanah tradition. Much to their delight, children are introduced to this custom at an early age. They’ll dip apples in honey after dinner for a simple dessert or eat it with classmates at Hebrew School if they are old enough to have begun their formal Jewish studies. Eating slices of sweet fruit covered in honey is a delightful experience that is accompanied by a prayer to God asking for a sweet year ahead.
Apples slices and honey is a delicious, albeit simple combination. So if you have already enjoyed your apples and honey and are looking for more sophisticated variations on the theme, you might like some of the recipes below:
- Sugar crusted French toast with honeyed apples
- Apple streusel tart with honey crust
- Honey baked apples
- Apple honey dutch baby
Also check out this idea for turning a hollowed out apple in to a honey bowl for apple slices. Hollowed out apples can also be used as “mugs” for honeyed apple cider or tea sweetned with honey.
After apples and honey, round challah is probably the second most recognizable Rosh HaShanah food. Many families make braided challah every Friday as part of their Shabbat observance and on Rosh HaShanah the loaves are shaped into spirals or rounds instead. This circular shape symbolizes the continuity of Creation, as well as the cycle of the year. According to some community traditions, braided rounds also represent the ascent to heaven. Raisins, honey or even agave are sometimes added to Rosh HaShanah challot (plural of challah) to increase their sweetness.
The recipes below provide twists on the traditional rounded challah theme and also have some great suggestions for using leftover challah in the kitchen.
Recipes for honey cakes are often passed down from generation to generation so many Jewish families have their own variation of this delicious spiced cake. Made with generous amounts of honey, these cakes also represent hopes for a sweet new year. Below are some enticing variations on the honey cake theme.
In addition to the above, you can also serve honey cake as part of a trifle. Simply cut the cake into cubes, then layer them with whipped cream and caramelized apples in a large, clear dessert bowl. If you want to be truly decadent, use vanilla ice cream instead of whipped cream.
New Fruit (Pomegranate)
Another Rosh HaShanah food tradition involves eating “new” food as part of the New Year celebration. “New” food is usually defined as any food that is coming into season when Rosh HaShanah is celebrated. It could also be a food that you haven’t yet had a chance to eat.
Pomegranates are one of the most popular Rosh HaShanah “new” foods. In addition to being in season and a fruit that many people don’t eat on a regular basis, the seeds of a pomegranate are said to number 613. This folk belief gives the fruit particular significance since there are also 613 mitzvot (commandments) in Judaism.
Below are a few enticing ways you can serve pomegranate on Rosh HaShanah. For information about the blessing said when eating new fruit on this holiday, check out: Rosh HaShanah Food Customs.