Rosh Hashanah is a time of newness. New beginnings. New hope. And new chances to pursue our dreams. The foods of Rosh Hashanah help pave the way by symbolizing all the good things to come. Below is a list of a few traditional Rosh Hashanah foods, their meanings, and new ways to incorporate them into your New Year celebration.
On Rosh Hashanah, the Challah is round instead of the typical braided oval loaf. The roundness is thought to characterize a crown, reminding us that Rosh Hashanah is the "head of the year." The shape is also symbolic of the perfect year to come.
Some people place a little bird or ladder on top of the Challah to symbolize the wish for our prayers to reach heaven. A creative idea is to make them out of sugar cookie dough––a great project for kids as well!
Sweetness, which symbolizes our hopes for the new year, is represented by many traditional Rosh Hashanah foods. Perhaps the most well known is the custom of dipping apples into honey at the start of the Rosh Hashanah meal. For a modern spin on this tradition, consider setting out different varieties of apples and honey for your guests to try. Our article, A Taste of Things to Come, tells you how.
Another sweet favorite on Rosh Hashanah is Noodle Kugel. For a new twist on this classic, try Susie Fishbein's recipe for Individual Peach Noodle Kugel.
Eating a fruit that we have not yet eaten in the past year is suggestive of the newness of the year. It's also a way to express our appreciation for the many fruits of the earth. A delightful way to incorporate this custom into your Rosh Hashanah table décor is to place a different kind of exotic fruit at each place setting––either in a small bowl or on the napkin at the center of each plate.
Fish, as a symbol of fertility (among other things), is also a featured food on Rosh Hashanah. Serving Gefilte fish is a modern way to honor this tradition. With so many varieties available, Gefilte fish lends itself nicely to a tasting station if you are having a buffet Rosh Hashanah dinner. Or, try putting small slices of several types of Gefilte out on a tray with crackers as hors d'oeuvres before a sit down dinner. Both are savory ways to start the new year with a sampling of something new.