Jewish Holiday List
From the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to the eight-day celebration of Hanukkah, a typical Jewish holiday list normally spans from March through December when using a secular calendar. But because the Jewish calendar is different, holidays can be hard to keep track of from year to year as the dates in a secular calendar move around.
2021 Jewish Holiday List
When are Jewish holidays this year? Use our updated Jewish holiday list to plan your celebrations and share traditions with family and friends. The following major holidays are happening in 2021 (Jewish Years 5781-5782). Note that holidays begin at sundown of the previous day.
Tu B’shevat - January 8
This holiday, the New Year of the Trees, marks the coming of spring. It is celebrated by having picnics, planting trees, and eating fruit.
Purim — February 26
The Festival of Lots recalls the rescue of the Jews of Ancient Persia from annihilation at the hands of Haman, who cast lots to choose this day for his plot to kill the Jews. Queen Esther and her uncle, Mordechai, foiled his plan.
On Purim, the Megillah of Esther is read, and the holiday is celebrated with festivity, costumes, and noisemakers. Hamantashen are the traditional food, mishloach manot (gift packages) are exchanged, and money is given to the poor.
Pesach / Passover — March 28 to April 4
The Exodus of the Jews from Egypt is celebrated with the eight-day festival of Passover. Ridding the home of chametz (leavened food) and eating only unleavened items commemorate the haste in which the former slaves fled Egypt, leaving them too little time for their bread dough to rise. Jews retell the story of the Exodus during their Passover Seders.
Yom Hashoah - April 8
Also known as “Holocaust Remembrance Day,” Yom HaShoah is marked by memorials and dedications to those who perished in the Holocaust.
Yom Hazikaron - April 14
Israel’s National Memorial Day honors veterans, fallen military personnel, and victims of terror.
Yom Ha’atzmaut - April 15
Israel Independence Day is celebrated festively by Jews around the world, commemorating the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948.
Yom Yerushalayim - May 10
Jerusalem Day commemorates the liberation of the city of Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War.
Shavuot — May 17-18
This holiday marks the end of the Counting of the Omer. It recalls Moses’ receiving of the Torah. The Megillah of Ruth is read, and all-night Torah study is customary. Dairy food, honey, and floral decorations are traditional.
Tisha B’av - July 18
This solemn day is a reminder of the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem, which occurred on the same Hebrew calendar date. It is traditional to fast.
Rosh Hashanah — September 7-8
Literally meaning “Head of the Year,” Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the Jewish calendar. It begins a 10-day period of repentance and prayer which ends on Yom Kippur. We celebrate the holiday with services and apples dipped in honey to symbolize the hope for a sweet year to come.
Yom Kippur — September 16
The Day of Atonement is the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, marking the end of the 10 days of repentance. It is spent in fasting and fervent prayer. Sounding the shofar signals the holiday’s end.
Sukkot — September 21-27
This harvest festival is named for the temporary dwellings, called Sukkot, decorated with fruit and vegetables, set up to recall the booths in which the Jews lived during their journey from Egypt. The holiday is marked by processions with the lulav (palm branch with myrtle and willow) and etrog (citron).
Shemini Atzeret — September 28
The day after Sukkot is Shemini Atzeret, which is combined in Israel with Simchat Torah, nominally a separate holiday; thus, there is no partaking of meals in the sukkah, nor use of the lulav and etrog. The special prayer for rain is recited during the musaf service.
Simchat Torah — September 29
Outside of Israel, the day after Shemini Atzeret, Simchat Torah marks the end of the annual Torah reading and the beginning of the cycle for the coming year. It is celebrated with singing, dancing, and merry processions of people carrying Torahs and children waving flags.
Chanukah / Hanukkah — November 29 to December 6
In 167 BCE, the Maccabees led a band of Jews in a successful battle against the occupying Syrian-Greeks, who had desecrated the Second Temple’s eternal light. Miraculously, one day’s supply of oil lasted eight days, until more could be found. The Chanukah menorah is lit for eight nights to celebrate that miracle. Children play dreidel, and foods fried in oil are customary.
For minor holidays, fasts and more, find Jewish holiday lists for the current and coming years using the Hebcal website.
Celebrating with Jewish Federation
The holidays are a perfect time to connect with loved ones and others in the Jewish community. Many of our programs and services host holiday-related gatherings for all to enjoy. Past events include YPD’s LollapaJEWza, the Hanukkah Hugs toy drive by Women’s Philanthropy, and the many virtual celebrations of Hanukkah 2020. Women’s Philanthropy also hosts annual “Pack a Bag of Love” events for Hanukkah and Purim.
Jewish Holiday Happenings in St. Louis
If you’re looking for Jewish holiday services or resources in St. Louis, we’ve gathered helpful links from local organizations.
- Learn more about each holiday and how to celebrate with the Jewish holiday list and guides from Congregation Temple Israel.
- See upcoming events using the Jewish in St. Louis Community Calendar.
- Browse Recipes for the High Holidays from STL Jewish Light.
- Tune into online Rhythm ‘n’ Ruach holiday events for the whole family! See upcoming events over on Jewish in St. Louis.
- Check out the WashUHillel site to see what’s planned for students during Hanukkah and other holidays.
Holidays at St. Louis Synagogues
Find holiday schedules and events for specific congregations by going to their websites. Use our online directory to get started!