December 31st is an exciting time for many. There are parties, copious amounts of glitter, fireworks and the annual ball drop. New Year's Eve is a time for celebration but it’s not really time for much else. Sure, you get together with friends and make some half-baked resolutions that you’ll forget about in a month, but New Years isn’t exactly a special time.
That’s where Rosh Hashanah comes in. Rosh Hashanah, literally meaning “the head of the year” is the Jewish new year. Jews have a “Hebrew Calendar” which operates on a lunar cycle, as opposed to the secular or Gregorian calendar which operates on a solar cycle. The entire setup is different, which is part of the reason that the new year is in the fall, around the autumnal equinox.
But what makes Rosh Hashanah “better” than New Year’s? Well, one of the most important parts of any holiday is the food, and Rosh Hashanah beats New Years by a landslide. Foods that are traditionally eaten on Rosh Hashanah are fish, brisket, round challah, and apples dipped in honey. Fish is commonly eaten because it is tradition for some groups of Jews to eat the fish head, representing that we are at the “head” of the year. Round challah symbolizes the year’s cycle, and apples and honey embodies the sweetness that we are hoping comes about in the new year. New Year’s in the U.S. doesn’t have traditional foods, and it certainly does not have the meaning that Rosh Hashanah has.
The holy day's meaning is very important. Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the 10 Days of Awe, which is a time to repent. Repentance in Judaism looks much more direct than the general Christian idea. There is no confession, there is no Hail Mary to be said. In order to obtain forgiveness, you have to ask the person you wronged for forgiveness. Until they flat out deny you a pardon two times, then you can ask G-D. But you have to at least try. There is no roundabout way to absolve yourself.
Rosh Hashanah is also a time for deep reflection. Many of the prayers that are said during the holy days are an admission of the fact that we are not all we could be. We could always be better in terms of working harder, being kinder, learning more, and just generally living up to our potential. Rosh Hashanah about the terrifying realization that we may never be enough, but also that we must try.
In comparison, New Year’s feels soulless. It is really just a giant party with a TV playing washed-up celebrity hosts and performances that seem to be happening far too late at night. There is no deeper meaning to New Year’s, it is really just a recognition that we have made it another year around the sun. It is not a time to recognize your mistakes or be better, it’s really just an excuse for yet another party. Rosh Hashanah will always be superior to New Year’s.
Hadass Galili is a senior studying political science pre-law at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnist do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Tell Hadass by tweeting her at @HadassGalili.