Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is one of the biggest celebrations of the year for Jewish communities and is regarded as one of the holiest days in the faith. The two-day holiday falls on different days each year because the Hebrew calendar determines the date.
Jewish calendar dates end at nightfall, which means Rosh Hashanah will this year begin at sundown on 2 October and end at nightfall on 4 October.
Rosh Hashanah is marked in a number of different ways, from special meals to synagogue services. It celebrates the creation of the world, but it is also a judgment day – when Jews believe that God balances a person's good deeds over the past year against their wrongdoings. It is a time of reflection and forgiveness.
The Jewish New Year occurs on the first day of the seventh month of Tishri, instead of the first month, Nissan. Rosh Hashanah – meaning "Head of the Year" – is when the year number is increased by one.
One of the synagogue rituals for Rosh Hashanah is the blowing of the shofar, a traditional instrument made from the horn of a ram. One hundred notes are sounded in a special rhythm.
As well as coming together for synagogue services, families hold feasts in which special meals are eaten – such as apples dipped in honey, a symbol of the sweet new year it is hoped will lie ahead. Challah (hallah) bread is also eaten in a round loaf, rather than the plaited version, to symbolise a circle of life and the new year.
Rosh Hashanah is mentioned in the Torah – in the book of Leviticus – as Yom Teruah, which can be translated as the Feast of Trumpets, or the Day of the Sounding of the Shofar. A common greeting on Rosh Hashanah is "shana tovah u'metukah", Hebrew for "a good and sweet new year".