Yes, you read that right: seder! Although the word makes you think of Pesach (and perhaps of Tu B’Shvat), the Jewish New Year has a unique array of special customs, including a seder of its own.
The Rosh Hashanah seder takes place only on the first night of the holiday – on the second night, it’s traditional to eat a new fruit (often a pomegranate) instead. Rather than matzah and wine, the Rosh Hashanah seder revolves around simanim – signs – for the year ahead. We eat a range of foodstuffs with different symbolic meanings; each has its own small prayer asking for it to be treated as a segulah – charm – for our futures.
The night starts as normal: candles are lit, Kiddush is made, and fluffy round challot and crunchy apple are dipped into sweet honey. It’s traditional to use round challah loaves instead of the usual braids on Rosh Hashanah because the circular shape represents the never-ending circle of life. Honey replaces salt in our hope for a shana tova umetuka – a good and sweet year.
Click on the chart below for an explanation of the different foods used and the prayers said over them. Feel free to print it out to use at your Rosh Hashanah meal!
P.S. It doesn’t have to stop here! You can create your own simanim in any language to enjoy with your family. For example, eat a few raisins with a chunk of celery for a “raisin celery (raise in salary)”.