How to Prepare for the Feast of Tabernacles 2023
Just when you thought the Jewish holidays were over, the Feast of Tabernacles in 2023 comes rearing its festive head. Of all the biblical holy days, Tabernacles (also referred to as the Feast of Booths or Sukkot) is the last of the fall holidays. And, if we’re being honest, it’s the most fun.
So what is the Feast of Tabernacles? Is the holiday only available to Jews? And how can you make Sukkot 2023 the best year yet?
We’ll cover all that. But first, here’s a little background.
The Holiday Buildup
If the Jewish calendar seems overwhelming, hopefully this section helps.
Most of these holidays are laid out in the Torah, specifically in Leviticus 23. They are a designated time set aside by God to meet with the people of Israel.
And because Jesus our Messiah grafted us into His family, the invitation is extended to us too! As a Messianic congregation, we also believe that Jesus has already come and died so that we can be reunited with God. These holidays not only point to Jesus’s life here on earth in his first coming, but they also speak to His next and final coming.
There are a few other holidays we’re not going to cover in this post, like Purim and Hanukkah. If you are interested in a full view of how we celebrate our holidays, you can read up on them here.
- Passover: Passover is a festival commemorating the liberation of the Israelites from the land of Egypt. We celebrate it with a Seder Dinner and liturgy, traditionally called a Haggadah.
- Unleavened Bread: During this weeklong festival, we refrain from eating leaven. We remember the journey the Israelites made in the wilderness.
- First Fruits: The Feast of Fruit Fruits celebrates the provision of our faithful God. As Christians, we also celebrate it as the day Christ rose from the grave.
- Pentecost: Pentecost (also called the Feast of Shavuot)celebrates God’s power displayed to the Hebrews at Mt. Sinai. As Christians, we also celebrate God’s spirit descending upon the disciples in the book of Acts.
- Feast of Trumpets: Also called Rosh Hashanah or Yom Teruah in Hebrew, Feast of Trumpets is literally the “Day for Blowing Trumpets.” Spiritually and symbolically, it calls us to repentance as Jewish communities enter a new year.
- Day of Atonement: Also called Yom Kippur and the Day of Judgement, this is the most holy and solemn day in Judaism, the Sabbath of Sabbaths. It’s a day of fasting and prayer as we prepare for the day we stand before the judgment seat.
That brings us to the Feast of Tabernacles in 2023!
The Feast of Tabernacles, also called Sukkot, is an eight day celebration commemorating the wandering of Israel in the wilderness. The holiday anticipates being with Jesus in constant celebration in eternity forever.
What Does the Bible Say About Sukkot?
It’s Bible study time! Just like Passover and the other common Biblical holidays, Sukkot is mandated in the Torah, Leviticus 23 to be exact. This particular feast is also referenced in Zechariah 14.
“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, On the fifteenth day of this seventh month and for seven days is the Feast of Booths to the Lord. […]These are the appointed feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim as times of holy convocation…”-Lev 23:33-37
So, in other words, Tabernacles is one of those special times to meet with God.
How Long Does the Feast of Tabernacles 2023 Last?
There are 8 days of Sukkot.
This year, the first day of sukkot begins sundown on Friday, September 29th and ends at sundown on Saturday, October 7th.
There are also two Sabbaths (or Shabbats) for this holiday: the first and the eighth day of the feast. So plan on taking Saturday, September 30th and Saturday, October 7th off work.
What Can I Do To Celebrate Sukkot 2023?
Luckily, you don’t have to journey to Jerusalem for some serious celebrating. You can celebrate this 8 day festival right within your town and even your four walls!
1. Build a Sukkah
Because Sukkot calls us to remember that we are on this earth temporarily, it is customary to build a sukkah, or a temporary dwelling place. Our congregation has gotten really creative with our sukkahs, and they range from actual tents to wooden structures flowing with sheets, tapestries and rugs. It’s common for Jewish people to eat and spend the night in their sukkahs each night.
2. Celebrate with God’s People
Getting together isn’t just a time for showing off your sukkahs and eating great food, although those are fun parts of the holiday, too. Each of the Biblical holidays is intended to be celebrated with God’s people. It’s a time for God to speak and meet with his people as a whole.
And when the day comes for us to tabernacle with Jesus for eternity, it won’t just be us sitting in heaven by ourselves. We will be rejoicing with Jesus’s entire bride.
So find some people to celebrate with and share all that God has done in your lives the last year and what you’re looking forward to in the year to come.
3. Celebrate the Harvest
Not only are we celebrating physical harvests, but the ultimate harvest is being prepared by the Messiah, and we are His field workers. The world is crying for a Savior, and Tabernacles is a reminder that we have the answer—Jesus.
4. Gather the Four Species
If you want to go full-traditional, Sukkot goes hand in hand with the four species (four symbolic types of plants) in Jewish communities. During the feast, participants bind the four plants or species and perform a waving ceremony with them each day.
The species include:
- Etrog: An etrog is a type of fruit. Modern day etrogs are a type of citron or citrus (similar to a lemon).
- Lulav: A lulav is a closed frond (leaf) of the date palm tree.
- Hadass: A hadass is a branch of a myrtle tree.
- Aravah: An aravah is a leafy branch of a willow tree.
And Finally, a Little Hebrew:
Here are a few Hebrew words commonly associated with the fall holidays.
- Shabbat: Sabbath, or days of rest. There are two Shabbats in the Feast of Tabernacles—one on the first day and one on the last day.
- Chol Hamoed: It means “weekdays of the festival.” These are the non-sabbath days of the Feast of Tabernacles.
- Mitzvah: Commandment or good deed done for religious duty.
- Yom Tov: Yom Tov translates to “festival day.” It’s not unique to just the feast of Tabernacles but rather applies to the 6 Biblically mandated festival dates.
- Shemini Atzeret: A less common holiday immediately following the days of Sukkot. It’s the day when the Jewish people leave their sukkah and eat their meals inside the house.
- Simchat Torah: This is a Jewish commandment or law. Historically, it’s when the Torah scrolls were taken out of the ark in the synagogue, and the people danced, sung and rejoiced.
We hope you learned something new and can celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles with your family and community. Have a wonderful, joyous holiday season!