Sukkot is the last of of the Three Pilgrimage Festivals and it has a double significance – historical and agricultural.
Historically, Sukkot is the 40 year period during which Jews wandered through the wilderness after the exodus from Egypt.
Agriculturally, Sukkot is a harvest festival and is sometimes referred to as Chag Ha-Asif – the Festival of Ingathering.
Jews celebrate Sukkot by residing in a booth or a hut – known as sukkah – and building a hut is the most obvious way in which Jews celebrate the festival.
In honour of the holiday’s historical significance, Jews are commanded to dwell in the temporary shelters, as their ancestors did in the wilderness.
The essential thing about the hut is that it should have a roof of branches and leaves, through which those inside can see the sky, and it should be a temporary and flimsy structures.
Sukkot lasts for seven days and all meals should be eaten in the sukkah, particularly the first two nights of the holiday.
Some Jews may even sleep in the sukkah for the duration of the holiday.
But it does depend on the climate where they live.
People in cold countries can satisfy the obligation by simply taking their meals in the huts, but in warmer countries, Jewish people will often sleep out in their huts.
Leviticus 23:42 says: “You should dwell in sukkot seven days…in order that future generations may know that I made the Israelite people live in sukkot when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I the Lord you God.”
During the first two days of Sukkot, Jews are forbidden to work, but work is permitted on the remaining days.
The intermediate days on which work is permitted are referred to as Chol Hamo’ed.
The final two days are separate holidays – Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah, but are related to Sukkot and commonly thought to be part of Sukkot.
The sukkah is made up of at least two walls, part of a third wall and a roof of unprocessed natural vegetation, typically bamboo, pine boughs or palm branches.
Another Sukkot observance is the taking of the Four Kinds: an etrog (citron), a lulav (palm frond), three hadassim (myrtle twigs) and two aravot (willow twigs).
On each day of the festival, Jews take the Four Kinds, recite a blessing over them, bring them together and wave them in all six directions: right, left, forward, up, down and backward.
How do you wish someone a Happy Sukkot?
To wish someone a Happy Sukkoth, simply say “Chag Sumeach!” which translates to mean Happy Holiday or joyous festival.