When and How Rosh Hashanah is Celebrated
- Unlike our more familiar, everyday Gregorian calendar, in which the months are based on the sun, the months of the Hebrew calendar are based on the moon. So while Rosh Hashanah (pronounced RASH huh-SHAA-nuh) spans the first two days of the Hebrew month of Tishrei (pronounced tish-RAY), it falls at different points on the Gregorian calendar each year (though always during the fall months). For more information about the holiday, visit our overview of Rosh Hashanah.
- Like all Jewish holidays, Rosh Hashanah begins and ends at sundown.
- The sounding of the shofar (pronounced SHOW-faar), a traditional instrument made from a hollowed-out ram’s horn, is integral to the holiday.
- Tashlich (pronounced TAHSH-likh) is a ceremony typically performed on the first afternoon of Rosh Hashanah. It entails reciting prayers and casting pieces of bread into a body of running water to symbolize casting off the sins of the previous year. Some people choose to substitute bread with pebbles or other small, environmentally friendly items.
What to Write in a Rosh Hashanah Card
The Jewish New Year, which is called Rosh Hashanah, is a festive time of introspection and preparation for the year ahead. This important holiday kicks off the ten Days of Awe known as the High Holy Days (or High Holidays) and is filled with special foods and traditions. Below, you’ll find messages you can include in a Rosh Hashanah card. Feel free to mix and match between the categories to create the right message for you and the recipient.
General and Traditional Rosh Hashanah Messages
Anyone can use these traditional sayings as a greeting, closing or main message in a card— whether you celebrate Rosh Hashanah yourself or you want to wish a Jewish friend a happy holiday.
- “Shana Tova!” (“Have a good year!”)
- “Shana Tova U’Metuka!” (“Have a good and sweet year!”)
- “Shana Tova Tikateivu!” (“May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for a good year!”)
- “Happy Rosh Hashanah!”
- “Yom Tov!” (“Good day!”)
- “Gut Yontif!” (“Good good day!” Yes, you read that right. It’s Yiddish, a language traditionally spoken by Ashkenazi Jews.)
Helpful Tip: Yom Tov and Gut Yontif are both understood as “have a good holiday,” and either can be used to express well wishes for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and many other major Jewish holidays.
Greetings for Family and Friends
On Rosh Hashanah, Jewish people gather to reflect on the past year and prepare for the year to come. Celebrations include large meals with friends and loved ones. Religious services are filled with special songs reserved just for the holiday.
- “May this year bring more sweetness, more joy and more time well spent together.”
- “Wishing you a year of peace, blessings and good health.”
- “Happy Rosh Hashanah! Hope the sweetness of these days carries through to the whole year ahead.”
- “May this time of reflection usher in a year of love, laughter and sweet blessings for you and your family.”
Playful Rosh Hashanah Wishes
The Jewish New Year is full of good food and good cheer. Round challah (pronounced HAA-luh), honey cake, apples dipped in honey, pomegranate seeds and a head of a fish (or cabbage) are often served to symbolize wholeness, sweetness, abundance and looking ahead. Don’t be afraid to have a little fun—and try out some puns—with your Rosh Hashanah greetings.
- “Hope your Rosh Hashanah has been great sho-far!”
- “Wishing you a year that is a head above the rest!”
- “Hope to see you around this challah-day!”
- “Here’s to a year as sweet as honey cake.”
- “Wishing you a year that’s all heads, no tails.”
- “Have no fear, the time for apples and honey is here!”
Including a Yom Kippur Message
Yom Kippur (pronounced YAAM kuh-POOR) is the Day of Atonement. It occurs 10 days after Rosh Hashanah and concludes the Days of Awe/High Holidays. Tradition says that on Rosh Hashanah your fate for the year is written by God, and on Yom Kippur, it’s sealed.
- “Wishing you an easy and meaningful fast on Yom Kippur.”
- “May Yom Kippur be a time of meaningful reflection for you and your family.”
- “G’mar Chatima Tova.” (“May you be sealed in the Book of Life.”)
Helpful tip: “Happy Yom Kippur” isn’t an appropriate message. While it’s not a sad day, it is the most solemn Jewish holiday, consisting of fasting and deep reflection.
You can close a message with any of the general and traditional Rosh Hashanah messages above. Or, depending on the relationship, you might want to sign with something a little more personal:
- “May your home be filled with countless blessings this year.”
- “All my love to you and yours as you enter this new year.”
- “Wishing you a Rosh Hashanah that is filled with love and meaning.”
Helpful Tip: There’s no simple way to move between the Hebrew and Latin alphabets, so you may see variations in how traditional holiday greetings are spelled. Whether you’re writing Shana Tova or Shanah Tovah, both are correct