New Year's celebrations in Israel
January 1st is normally a regular workday in Israel and officially not much more than a date change in the secular calendar, which is used alongside the Hebrew calendar (with Rosh Hashanah as the Jewish New Year and an important national celebration). However, many Israelis still enjoy celebrating New Year’s Eve – often called Silvester, the name used by the German Jewish immigrants who first popularized the holiday in Israel in the 1930’s – although the practice is not as widespread as in some other Western countries.
There are various parties, concerts, and special events, particularly in Tel Aviv – a fun-loving city that’s always down to party! While certain types of public gatherings are currently still somewhat restricted due to Coronavirus, the high rate of vaccination among Israel’s population means that Israelis are able to still go out, socialize, and toast the New Year with their loved ones (likely with some sparkling wine!).
Immigrants to Israel from cultures where New Year’s observance is widespread often keep their customs in their new home. Russian Israelis are particularly known for their Novy God (“New Year”) celebrations – characterized by large family meals, traditional foods, presents, decorated trees, and merrymaking.
This year, New Year’s Day happens to coincide with Israel’s official weekly day of rest, Saturday (the Jewish sabbath or shabbat), which makes celebrating easier. Many Israelis will already be gathering with their family or friends on Friday night to drink wine, eat, and observe shabbat, and the turn of the new secular year adds an additional layer of festivities.
Missing Israel? Check out some of the best ways to express your love for the land and people of Israel with our top 10 gifts, all from local Israeli designers.
How you can support Israel in the New Year
Israel needs your support as always! Some of the best ways that you can express your love for the Jewish state include: