Each year, 163 days after Passover, the Jewish community celebrates Rosh Hashana, which marks the beginning of the High Holy Days leading up to Yom Kippur.
The two-day celebration of Rosh Hashana began this year at sundown Sunday and will continue through Tuesday night.
The phrase means “head of the year.” But the holiday actually takes place in the seventh month of the Jewish calendar (the months don’t exactly line up to a traditional Gregorian calendar, but the seventh month usually takes place in September and October).
The celebration is actually considered the birth or creation of the world, rather than marking the passage of a year around the sun. According to Orthodox tradition, Rosh Hashana, which also is spelled Rosh Hashanah, is the anniversary of when the breath of life entered lumps of clay and created Adam and Eve.
In other words, the Jewish holiday celebrates the creation of humanity.
September 2017: What is Yom Kippur? How do Jews observe it?
September 2017: When is Rosh Hashanah 2017 and what are Jews celebrating?
Those attending synagogue services will hear the sound of a ram’s horn being blown. In all, the ceremonial horn (called a shofar) is blown 100 times. The first trumpeting of the shofar starts a 10-day period known as the “days of awe” through Yom Kippur, which is the “day of atonement.” This year, Yom Kippur begins on the evening of Sept. 18 and ends the evening of Sept. 19.
During this time, Jews believe the Book of Life is opened, and God writes down what their upcoming year will hold. Over the 10 days, believers seek forgiveness and try to make amends for wrongs against God or other people.
On the 10th day, according to Jewish belief, God closes the book, sealing the future in stone for the year. This 10th day, known as Yom Kippur, is when observant Jews fast for about 24 hours. The fast is broken when the shofar blows again.
Contributing: Ali Phillips and Hannah Gaber, The Arizona Republic. Follow Chris McCrory on Twitter: @ckm_news