Today, the Jewish observance of Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown and ends on Sunday at dusk. This day should hold a particular interest to us as beekeepers since the observance includes the fruit of our labors -- delicious honey. It seems to be a custom that is almost as old as life itself.
In case you're not familiar with it, Rosh Hashanah, literally "head of the year" -- is a Jewish holiday commonly referred to as the Jewish New Year. It is the first of the Jewish High Holidays or "Days of Awe" or the Ten Days of Repentance which are days specifically set aside to focus on repenting. It concludes with Yom Kippur. It is the new year for people, animals, and legal contracts.
Rosh Hashanah is observed as a day of rest and certain activities prohibited on Shabbat are also prohibited on Rosh Hashanah. It is characterized by the blowing of the shofar which is a trumpet made from a ram's horn, and is intended to make the listener arise from their slumber and alert them to the coming judgment. During the afternoon of the first day, prayers are recited near natural flowing water so that one's sins are symbolically cast into the water. And many Jews throw bread or pebbles into the water to symbolize the casting off of one's sins.
Of particular interest to beekeepers would be one of the meals during Rosh Hashanah that includes honey and apples -- which symbolizes a sweet new year for those of the Jewish faith. The apple is dipped in honey, the blessing for eating tree fruits is recited, the apple is tasted, and then the apples and honey prayer is recited, "Blessed are you, Lord, our God, king of the universe who creates the fruit of the tree. May it be Your will, Lord our God and God of our ancestors that you renew for us a good and sweet year. Amen."