Jewish Holiday Food Traditions

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Jewish cuisine offers extremely modest food that speaks of the strict observance of the ancient tradition, but also of the inevitable influences of several thousand years of assimilation.

Jewish cuisine, both Sephardic and Ashkenazi, is based on Old Testament regulations and a series of very strict, canonized prohibitions. For Jews, it is essential that the meals eaten be Kosher, that is, clean in the traditionally religious way, and that there are a number of rules and regulations closely related to the religious rites that apply when preparing Kosher meals. Kosher is a word traditionally used to describe all these prohibitions. There are three types of kosher foods – neutral, meat and dairy. Neutral includes vegetables, fruits, cereals and some types of fish.

Dairy includes all milk products or those containing at least traces of milk, and the meat of certain animals and birds killed and cleaned in a certain way is allowed to mix neutral foods with both meat and milk, and the mixing of meat and milk products is absolutely prohibited and that a whole host of additional prohibitions apply to food prepared for Pesach – a holiday celebrating deliverance from Egyptian slavery.

Dietary differences

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There are two authentic groups within the Jewish people, depending on where they settled during the exodus in the first century BC, after the destruction of Jerusalem. The first is the Ashkenazi, who have settled in Central Europe (mostly in Germany and Poland) and their cuisine has been significantly influenced by the traditional diet of goose meat, barley, beet, potatoes and dough.

Sephardim inhabited Spain and Portugal, and their cuisine became significantly lighter, extremely similar to the Mediterranean and a bit oriental. The third group consists of contemporary Israeli cuisine, where dishes such as pie with leeks, cheese or meat, blue eggplant and tomato mushrooms are prevalent… In this Jewish cuisine, the most famous dish is falafel – meatballs of boiled and minced chickpeas.

At Ashkenaz, beans are made every Saturday with goose and beef, potatoes and barley, which is cooked all night. It is stewed with goose fat and peppers. In other groups, it is cooked without meat, fry and fat. Pumpkins, oranges, watermelons, roses, apricots and plums are featured in their kitchen.

Traditionally, all Jewish groups have a type of appetizer called Cholent. These are eggs cooked in onions and spices. And there are soup with dumplings made from unleavened ground bread prepared according to religious customs. This bread can be purchased in all countries where Jews live. The soup is also often seasoned with chicken liver dumplings mixed with bread flour.


Jews have many holidays, which are very important to them and strictly adhere to the rules. It is also a time of family reunion, and we will present to you the most important holidays and what is eaten in those days.


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The biggest holiday, which happens every Sunday from Friday to Saturday. Dedicated solely to rest, in the likeness of God whose creation of the world lasted six days and the seventh was for rest. It represents an essential balance between work and rest, which is essential for man.

Meals are also very important. Three meals are eaten. Dinner on Friday, lunch on Saturday and another meal on Saturday afternoon. Dinner starts with two loaves of bread and wine, followed by meat and fish, as well as lunch on Saturdays. While neutral food is eaten for the third meal.

In ancient times, the use of fire and light was often forbidden. Later, this was much mitigated and fire and lights were allowed to be used if they were lit before the holiday began. You can find candles and candlesticks just for Sabbath, on sites with huge offer like

Rosh Hashanah

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It is celebrated on the first and second day of the seventh month and represents the New Year. It is different from the others in that it brings a different spirit with it, more seriousness and less festive atmosphere.

The goal is to make the next year a success. That evening starts with something sweet, like honey, sugar and fruit. Strongly spicy foods should be avoided.

The usual after-lunch break is also skipped and worship is continued.

Yom Kippur

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Also known as the Day of Repentance, it is considered to be the holiest Jewish holiday. At the heart of the holidays is “repentance” and “reconciliation.” The Jews traditionally commemorate this holy day with a 25-hour complete fast and dedication to prayer. Food, drink, bathing and marital relations are prohibited. Fasting begins at sunset and ends at the beginning of the night the next day.

Yom Kippur is on the 10th day of the month of Tishri according to the Jewish calendar, and with it the Great Holidays period ends.


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The Hanukkah feast is celebrated on the 25th of Kislev according to the Jewish calendar and is also called the Feast of Light. Perhaps the most characteristic custom associated with the Hanukkah holiday is the burning of candles on an eight-pointed candlestick. The first candle is lit on the first day of the feast, on the second day two candles are lit, on the third day three, and so on until the eighth day of the feast, when all eight candles are lit on the candlestick. The candlestick is usually placed by the window and symbolizes the announcement of a miracle, because the holiday of Hanukkah remembers a specific event in Jewish history related to the light that, instead of being expected one day, burned for eight whole days.

What exactly is this about? The story was located in the second century BC, at a time when the Jewish people were under Hellenistic rule. Thanks to the courage of Judah Maccabee and the rebellion that led against the repressive Hellenistic rule, the Temple, the central place of Jewish worship, was returned under Jewish directive. Since the Temple had to be rebuilt and prepared for service, and there was not enough specially prepared and suitable oil for this, the Jews were faced with a problem; however, the existing oil burned as much as eight times longer, the entire eight days, and enabled the consecration of the Temple.

In Jewish families, Hanukkah is a joyous holiday. In addition to burning candles, evenings are marked by family gatherings, making food fried in oil (oil is one of the main elements of the Hanukkah story), such as donuts and latkes (special types of pancakes), and children receive a small amount of money they can to spend on their pleasures.


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The word Sukkot in Hebrew means huts, and so Sukkot can also be called the holiday of huts. What kind of huts is this? The holiday commemorates the forty-year period of wandering the Jewish people through the desert; during this time the Jews lived in handmade huts made of natural materials that were their only protection.

For this holiday, a hut is made in the courtyard of the house or synagogue in which it is eaten and slept. Most vegetables are eaten to make the symbol a successful harvest.


There are many more holidays, but we have presented the most important. Both their symbolism and the food is eaten during them, which is very important for Jewish civilization.