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The Symbolism Behind Rosh Hashanah Food

The Jewish New Year of Rosh Hashanah begins tonight at sundown. Although it is a time for introspection and soul-searching, it is also a happy day. Once the holiday prayer service is completed, a kiddush is said and a festive meal is eaten. Many foods are symbolic, such as apples dipped into honey which represent a sweet new year. The folks at rounded up the symbolic meaning for other Rosh Hashanah food:

Round Challah
The round shape symbolizes a perfect year to come. Sometimes raisins or honey are added to make it extra sweet.

Apples and Honey
Dip the apples in honey to symbolize a sweet year to come.

Head of Fish or Gefilte ("filled") Fish
Fish is an ancient symbol of fertility and abundance. The head of fish symbolizes the head of the New Year. The head also symbolizes hope that the Jewish people will lead other nations through their righteous acts.

Head of Lamb, Sweet Chicken or Meat Dish
Head of lamb symbolizes our hope that the Jewish people will lead other nations through their righteousness. The sweet entree symbolizes our wish for a sweet year.

Tzimmes is an eastern European recipe for honey baked carrots. The Yiddish word "meren" means carrots and to increase. Carrots symbolize our hope that we increase our good deeds in the coming year. Some tzimmes recipes add prunes, sweet potatoes or even meat to the sweet carrots.

Spinach symbolizes a green year with plenty of produce.

To learn about more symbolic Rosh Hashanah food, read more

Rice symbolizes abundance.

Honey Cake or Teiglach (crunchy dough boiled in honey)
"This day is holy to God, your God; do not mourn and do not weep...for the joy of God is your strength." (Nechemiah 8:9-10). It is said that the Prophet Nechemiah introduced to the ancient Israelites the Persian custom of eating sweet foods to celebrate the New Year.

Source: About Judaism
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