Tonight begins the week-long festival of Sukkot (The Feast of Tabernacles). This is a festival of praise, joy, and celebration with themes including God providing for his children in the wilderness, God dwelling with us, and for Believers, the birth of Yeshua. It’s closely follows the more somber and introspective holidays of the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah), the Ten Days of Awe, and Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement).
In our family, Sukkot also typically falls around the end of birthday season, and by this time in the fall, this mama is usually worn out and out of creativity to make a special holiday for our family. So this year, I decided early to plan a bit better so that we could do more and make it more memorable. We aren’t able to build a sukkah this year (a temporary dwelling for eating and hanging out in), but I was able to make a list of a few things that would set this week apart from the rest of the fall season:
1. We got out our decorations. We actually have had a box of fall decorations sitting in the garage unopened for 2 years! This year, the kids helped me take them out and set them up.
2. Apple cider. My husband requested a bottomless crock pot of cider kept on for the holiday, so I’ve been stocking up on apple cider so we’d have enough to enjoy it all week. Mmmm…!
3. Chili for dinner. Nothing says fall like a bowl of hot chili, right? I think I’m going to start a tradition of starting Sukkot with a meal of a hot fall stew (maybe chili every year?).
4. A fire in our fire pit. I love fire. It captures my senses in a way nothing else does. The sight, sound, smell… Just ahhhh…
5. A special fall candle. I love lighting Shabbat candles every week – it’s a beautiful sensory experience that deepens the setting apart of the day. And we light Shabbat candles on the first and last days of Sukkot that are special Sabbath rest days. But what about the other days? I want the whole holiday to feel cohesive and special. So I got a pretty orange candle to light every day of Sukkot, just because.
6. A nativity set. This one is something in really excited about, something that I’ve wanted to do for a while but hadn’t prioritized until this year. We believe that Yeshua’s birth took place during the Feast of Tabernacles, and we read the story of His birth this week, so I wanted to incorporate a visual element too. I chose the Willow Tree nativity set because I liked the simple, rustic look of it and the lack of facial features (I have a thing about images of Yeshua).
So anyway, the kids are in bed now and our first night went as well as we’d hoped for. We started with lighting Shabbat candles and blessings over grape juice and challah. Dinner of chili & bread was a hit and no complaining! (Mama win!) After dinner we lit a fire in the fire pit and migrated outside to roast a few kosher marshmallows that were getting stale. (Totally not planned but it felt good to say “yes”!) Then we got everyone some cider and listened while Mark read the nativity story from Luke. That was a bit rough – 5 tired kids who are now eating marshmallows and cider and totally distracted by a fire (one of whom is trying to stick himself into said fire and won’t let me hold him!). We had to pause and restart a couple times, but in the end I think it went well.
Now, time for a cup of tea and some quiet reading to end my day.