Rosh Hashanah, known as the Jewish New Year, begins tonight, marking the start of Judaism’s most sacred period.
Although it is known as a New Year celebration, Rosh Hashanah should not to be confused with the frivolity of the secular styled celebration marked each year on Jan. 1.
Rather, Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the 10-day period known as the Days of Awe that ends on Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement. Together, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are known as High Holy Days. Jews view the time as one of reflection and as a period to make amends.
Rosh Hashanah literally means “head of the year” and is celebrated on the first day of Tishrei - the seventh month in the Hebrew calendar. It can fall anywhere from September to October.
The holiday starts at sundown today (7:24 p.m.) and will mark the 5,774 year in the Jewish calendar. Yom Kippur falls on Sept. 14.
The celebration is based on a passage in Leviticus, which calls for it to be marked by the blasts of horns. As a result, a shofar, or ram's horn, is traditionally sounded in synagogue on Rosh Hashanah. Work is prohibited on the holiday.