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Celebrating Holidays Away From Home

Hello! I'm experimenting with blogging every day. Because I'm very new to this, I need your help. Please take a minute to drop me a line and let me know what you think. I will post stories, thoughts, and possibly recipes (if I'm having an off day). Here's the post for today.

Today is Shavuot. It's one of the three big Jewish holidays. None of my non-Jewish friends ever heard about it, probably because it doesn't co-occur with any Christian holiday.

Shavuot is my favourite holiday. It's a farmers' holiday, and I grew up in a farming community. It was a big deal when I was growing up. Traditionally, we celebrate the beginning of the harvest. In olden days (or so the tradition goes), the Israelites would travel to the temple in Jerusalem to offer God their first batch of crops to ensure a prolific season. In my secular village, at this time of the year, the season is already done, as most of the "harvest" happens between October and April. So, the busy season is over, and this is a holiday that celebrates farmers. We'd go all out.

Each of the leading agricultural branches in our village (peppers, dairy, flowers, dates, and so on) had a wagon, and the kids would spend weeks decorating it with the appropriate theme. There was no official competition, but there was, of course, a competitive element. There was an official competition of the best fruit basket which each family would bring. Ours wasn't usually in the running, but we would submit one every single year. There was what we called a "tractors rondo" which was a dance performed on tractors. As kids, we looked up to those who were selected as drivers to display their skills. There were dances by the kindergarteners and the adults and songs sung by the choir, and it was a big event.

Yesterday we had a Shavuot picnic with our Israeli friends. It was lovely, involved lots of wine and food, and the weather was gorgeous (which is saying something, here in London). But it wasn't the same. There weren't the weeks of preparation we used to have back home. This was, of course, mostly my fault because I'm busy blogging and writing and didn't have time to prepare anything. Still, it feels like something missing. That something is, of course, my family. But that's another post, I should think.

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