This month, we are celebrating...
Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur
Rosh Hashanah (Monday 6th September): A festival for the Jewish New Year. The main ceremony is the sounding of the shofar, a ram’s horn, blown to ‘wake’ people so that they can prepare to lead better lives.
Yom Kippur (Wednesday 15th September): Yom Kippur happens ten days after Rosh Hashanah, it is considered to be the day of atonement. It is a sacred day in the Jewish calendar and is spent in prayer, fasting and asking God’s forgiveness for any wrongdoings.
Samvatsari (International forgiveness day) - 10th September
This is the last day of the eight day festival of Paryushana, which many regard as the most important festival of Jainism. It is the holiest day of the Jain calendar and many Jains observe it as a complete fast. The entire day is spent in prayer and contemplation, and it climaxes in the evening when people ask for forgiveness from others – and from all living creatures – for any hurt they have knowingly or unknowingly caused during the previous year.
Rabbit in the moon festival/Zhongqiujie/Chung Ch’iu - 21st September
This Mid-Autumn festival celebrates the moon’s birthday. Traditionally, offerings of moon cakes are made by women to the goddess of the moon. Offerings are also made to the rabbit in the moon, who is pounding the elixir of life with a pestle. ‘Spirit money’ is bought along with incense and offered to the moon by women. They also make special ‘moon’ cakes containing ground lotus and sesame seeds or dates. These contain an image of the crescent moon or of the rabbit in the moon, and children holding brightly coloured lanterns are allowed to stay up late to watch the moon rise from some nearby high place.
Special services are held around this time of year to give thanks for the goodness of God’s gifts in providing a harvest of crops along with all the other fruits of society. Displays of produce are often made, usually distributed afterwards to those in need. Increasingly the emphasis is on a wider interpretation than just the harvests of the fields and seas. Both Christians and Jewish people celebrate Harvest in September.