Happy Jewish New Year! 5 symbolic foods we eat on Rosh Hashana

Hi! My name is Chavi (aka @vitamin.c), and I’m a final year Dietetics BSc student at the University of Hertfordshire. I’m also a religious Jew, and have recently celebrated the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana. It is a celebration of what the following year will have in store, as well as a time of reflection on the past year and what we want to achieve the next year. Rosh Hashana is celebrated with food (obvs!), prayers, friends and family.


There are a number of symbolic foods eaten on Rosh Hashana called Simanim, all symbolising what we are hoping the year has in store. Before eating each food, a short prayer is recited, detailing the reasons why we eat each food item. The traditional foods eaten will vary between different Jewish cultures, and I’ll be talking about some of the Ashkenazi Jewish traditions!


Apples dipped in honey:


The foods most commonly associated with Rosh Hashana are apples dipped honey. We dip apples into honey, as well as dipping our challah (a traditional type of bread) into honey. This is to symbolise having a sweet year, and many will greet each other with “have a sweet new year!”.


Pomegranates:


Pomegranates are famous for their multitudes of seeds. These represent the multitudes of good deeds, mitzvot, that we hope to do in the new year.


Round Challah:


Challah is a traditional Jewish bread eaten on special occasions and on the Sabbath every week. It usually has a long plaited shape, but on Rosh Hashana we eat a round plaited challah. This is to symbolise the cyclical nature of the year, as well as the circular nature of life.


Head of a fish:


This is a strange one! Rosh Hashanah literally means “head of the year”, so we eat the head of a fish to represent the start of the new year. It doesn't taste as bad as it sounds, but many will simply display the head on the table as opposed to eating it. We wish for a new year full of new beginnings and opportunities.


Sweet carrots:


Honey glazed carrots is another common food eaten on Rosh Hashana. Meirin, the Yiddish word for carrots, also means “more”. We hope for a sweet year, filled with more goodness!




I hope you enjoyed this little insight into some of the symbolic foods we eat on Rosh Hashanah! Feel free to ask me any questions at all.


Wishing you all a sweet new year, filled with happiness, health, and success x


(cover image used with permission)

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