Celebrating the Feasts of the Lord: A Guide to Biblical Festivals

The Bible contains a rich and varied tradition of feasts and festivals that have been celebrated for thousands of years. These celebrations serve as important markers of time and provide opportunities for believers to deepen their faith and connect with their spiritual heritage.

In this guide, we will explore the significance and purpose of these festivals, as well as provide practical tips for celebrating them in a meaningful and memorable way.

Overview of Biblical Feasts

The Bible contains several feasts and festivals that are central to the faith of the Jewish people, Messianic Believers, and Judeo-Christians. 

These celebrations have many names they go by, so keep that in mind when learning them. These festivals can be separated into Shabbat, the spring festivals, and the fall festivals. Shabbat is the most important festival, and it is actually a weekly one! The spring feasts are Passover/Pesach, Feast of Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits/The Omer, and Shavuot/Pentecost. The Fall Feasts are Rosh Hashanah/Feast ofTrumpets, Yom Kippur/Atonement, Sukkot/Tabernacles, and the Last Great Day. Three festivals are highlighting among all of the festivals as being especially important. These are pilgrimage festivals, meaning that traveling to the temple in Jerusalem was required. The three pilgrimage festivals are Sukkot/Feast of Tabernacles, Passover/Pesach, and Shavuot/Shavuos.

Each of these feasts has its own unique origin and significance, and they provide an opportunity to reflect on the key events and teachings of the Torah and the Bible.

Importance of Celebrating the Feasts

Celebrating the feasts is an important part of being a faithful follower of God for many. It provides an opportunity to deepen one's faith and connect with the spiritual heritage of one's ancestors. 

These celebrations make it easier to understand and appreciate the key events and teachings of the Bible, while providing a meaningful way to mark the passing of time.

The purpose of this guide is to provide an overview of the biblical feasts and to offer practical tips for celebrating them in a meaningful and memorable way. 

Whether you are a seasoned veteran of these celebrations or a newcomer to these rich and meaningful traditions, this guide will provide you with all the information you need to participate in these celebrations with confidence and joy.


Origin and Significance

Shabbat is one of the most central and cherished celebrations in the Jewish faith. It starts every Friday night and continues until sunset on Saturday. It is a day set apart for rest and worship.

The observance of Shabbat is commanded in the Ten Commandments, where it is written, "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy." The Sabbath is the English translation of the Hebrew word "Shabbat". Hebrew is the original language the Torah and Old Testament were written in. Shabbat is the 7th day of the week. In Hebrew, the days of the week are named 1st day, 2nd day, 3rd day, 4th day, 5th day, 6th day, and Shabbat, making it very clear which day was to be set a part as the day of rest and worship. This day of rest was established from the very beginning when the Lord created the earth. He too worked for 6 days and rested on the 7th. 

The purpose of Shabbat is to set aside a day of rest, renew one's mind unto the Lord, reflect on the blessings of the week, and to spend time with family, friends, and community.

During Shabbat, Jewish and Messianic Believers abstain from work and other activities that would interfere with the sanctity of the day. Instead, they spend time in prayer, study, and joyful celebration.

How to Celebrate

To celebrate Shabbat, Jews observe several traditions and customs. Shabbat begins at Sunset on Friday with the lighting of two candles, usually by the woman of the house.

The candle on the right represents the week behind and the candle of the left the week ahead. It is a way of saying shalom, peace, and letting go of the things from the past and saying shalom, peace, to the next week. This lighting ceremony is accompanied by a special blessing recited over the candles, which signifies the beginning of Shabbat. The candles represent the light of the world, and how those who follow the instructions in the Torah are light bearers. For Messianic Believers, the light represents Yeshua Jesus. 

The traditional Shabbat meal is a time for families and friends to come together, share a meal, and reflect on their blessings. The meal usually starts with the Kiddush ceremony, which involves reciting prayers over a cup of wine and bread known as challah. For Messianic believers, this is known as communion and is a time to remember the breaking of Yeshua Jesus' body and blood spilt during his death.

The meal itself often features traditional Jewish dishes such as gefilte fish, chicken soup, cholent (a stew that has been slow-cooked overnight), and kugel (a type of sweet or savory pudding). For other families, this is just the best meal of the week, one that is set apart from all the other meals of that week.

After the meal, families and friends often spend time singing and sharing stories, or they attend synagogue services, which often involve singing, praying, and studying Torah (the first 5 books of the Old Testament) and any correlating scripture from that weeks parashah. Some families also participate in the Havdalah ceremony at the end of Shabbat, which marks the transition from Shabbat to the new week.

During this ceremony, a special candle, wine, and spices are used to symbolize the end of Shabbat and the beginning of a new week.

The Spring Feasts

The Spring Feasts are a set of four biblical holidays celebrated by Jews and Christians alike, marking key events in the history of the Jewish people and offering opportunities for spiritual reflection and growth.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into each of the Spring Feasts, exploring their origins, significance, and practical ways to celebrate them.


Origin and Significance

Passover or Pesach is one of the oldest and most important feasts in the Jewish calendar, celebrated annually to commemorate the story of the Israelites' deliverance from slavery in Egypt. According to the book of Exodus, God sent Moses to Pharaoh to demand the release of the Israelites, but Pharaoh refused. 

As a result, God sent ten plagues upon the Egyptians, and the final plague was the death of the firstborn son in every Egyptian household. To protect themselves, the Israelites were instructed to place the blood of a lamb on their doorposts, and the angel of the Lord passed over their houses, sparing their firstborn. The next day, the Israelites left Egypt in haste, and this event is remembered every year during Passover.

The event is also a symbol for Messianic Believers and Christians of salvation through the blood of Yeshua Jesus. 

How to Celebrate

Passover is typically celebrated in a family setting, with friends and relatives gathering for a special meal called the Seder. During the Seder, the story of the exodus (escape) is retold, and participants enjoy a festive meal together. Some common elements of the Seder include cleaning the home of leaven, purifying the home of anything sinful, and participating in prayers that commemorate the events of the story.

In addition to the Seder, many families also choose to attend special services at their synagogue or church, sing Passover songs like Dayanu, and engage in other activities and traditions related to the feast. Check out our Passover mini-tapestry to add to the decorative festivities. It is a door with blood in the shape of the Hebrew letter "tav", meaning mark, sign, and covenant. This makes a great hostess gift if you are invited to a Passover Seder. For some Messianic inspiration for celebrating this holiday, check out our blog post a "Jesus-Centered Passover with Kids".

passover gift on a front door and in a child's hands

Festival of Unleavened Bread

Origin and Significance

Unleavened bread is celebrated immediately after Passover and marks the seven-day period during which the Israelites were in transit from Egypt to the Promised Land. According to tradition, they had to leave Egypt quickly and did not have time to let their bread rise, so they baked it without yeast, creating unleavened bread.

The celebration of Unleavened bread serves as a reminder of the haste with which the Israelites left Egypt, and it is a time to focus on spiritual purification and renewal.

How to celebrate

To celebrate Unleavened Bread, many people choose to abstain from eating leavened bread and instead eat only unleavened bread for the seven-day period. Leaven is the yeast added to bread and flours so it rises. Everything from the crust on a pizza to sandwich bread has yeast in it. 

Additionally, some individuals choose to engage in spiritual practices during this time, such as fasting, prayer, or meditation, as a way to deepen their connection with God and to focus on spiritual renewal. The leaven is to serve as a reminder of sin, and how it can grow quickly and be difficult to remove from all the areas in one's life it has spread to. This is a season of introspection to see where there is sin in one's life and focus on ridding oneself of it through true repentance, teshuvah. 

The Omer

Origin and Significance

Firstfruits or The Omer is a celebration of the beginning of the harvest season and marks the first time that the Israelites brought their crops to the temple as an offering to God.

"And you shall count for yourselves from the morrow of the Shabbat, from the day on which you bring the Omer offering, seven complete weeks they shall be; until the morrow of the seventh week, you shall count fifty days... And you shall proclaim that very day a holy festival" (Leviticus 23:15- 21)

This event symbolized the Israelites' gratitude for the blessings of the first harvest of barley and their recognition that all good things come from God. Firstfruits is a time to give thanks for the abundance that God provides and to remember the importance of stewardship and generosity. It also starts the counting up of the 50 days to the next festival, Shavuot.

How to Celebrate

To celebrate Firstfruits, some individuals choose to give a special offering or donate a portion of their harvest to those in need, as a way to express gratitude for God's blessings and to practice generosity.

There is also a tradition of beginning the count of the Omer. This involves saying a blessing and counting the day and weeks leading up to Shavuot. There is a deeper meaning to this as well. The Israelites were taken out of 430 years of slavery when Passover took place, and in order to prepare this people for the giving of the Torah, the Lord did inner healing work. With every counting of the Omer, there was also daily instruction and contemplation to remove the low view of self the people had from being slaved to having humility. The change into humility would allow them to begin truly loving the Lord and one another. The Omer is counted every night at sundown. 

It is customary for some to study the 7 attributes of God found in 1 Chronicles 29:11: "Yours, O HaShem, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O HaShem, and You are exalted as Head above all."

The Hebrew words of these characteristics are the following:

  1. Chesed – Loving-kindness, greatness
  2. Gevurah – Justice and discipline, power, awe
  3. Tiferet – Harmony, compassion, glory, beauty
  4. Netzach – Endurance, victory, ambition 
  5. Hod – Humility, hod
  6. Yesod – Bonding
  7. Malchut –sovereignty, leadership, humility, kingdom 

The first week is spent examining what greatness/kindness (chesed) looks like by each day combining it with one of the other attributes. For example, one day during the week, one would contemplate what does chesed (greatness/kindness) with gevurah (power/judgement/discernment) look like? This may be seen in giving but with discerning restraint, the opposite is spoiling by giving with no restraint.

The next day, one would contemplate what does chesed (greatness/kindness) with gevurah (glory) look like? Following in this pattern, the 7 attributes crossed with the 7 attributes gives you 49 days of study and contemplating material. The idea being love can be expressed in 49 ways (at least). It is in studying God and his attributes that one can have the wisdom to know which way to show love in a given situation. So fitting, a head of wheat actually has 50 kernels. So if the stem of wheat represents love, each kernel represents all the different ways it can look.








chesed 1 2 3 4 5 6

gevurah 8 9 10 11 12 13


tiferet 15 16 17 18 19 20


netzach 22 23 24 25 26 27


hod 29 30 31 32 33 34


yesod 36 37 38 39 40 41


malkut 43 44 45 46 47 48


single wheat head with kernels


Origin and Significance

Shavuot or Shavuos is celebrated seven weeks after Passover and is also known as the Feast of Weeks or the Festival of Harvest. Since it is 50 days after Passover, it is also called Pentecost. This holiday is one of the three major pilgrimage festivals in Judaism.

The origin of Shavuot can be traced back to the biblical story of the Giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. According to the story, after the Israelites had escaped slavery in Egypt and counted the Omer for 50 days, God gave them the Torah through Moses on Mount Sinai. This event is seen as the moment when the Jewish people became a nation and entered into a covenant with God. This is a great and special day of remembering and establishing covenants between God and mankind.

The significance of Shavuot lies in its celebration of the receiving of the Torah and the establishment of the Jewish nation. The holiday serves as a reminder of the importance of the Jewish tradition and the role that the Torah plays in Jewish life. It is a time for reflection, renewal, and recommitment to the values and beliefs embodied in the Torah.

How to celebrate

In terms of celebration, there are several traditional activities that are associated with Shavuot. One of the most common is the all-night study of the Torah, known as "Tikkun Leil Shavuot." During this time, Jews gather in synagogues and study together, often discussing the teachings of the Torah and their relevance to modern life.

Reading the book of Ruth is also customary because much of the story of Ruth took place during Shavuot. And Ruth shows that anyone, Jew or Gentile, can turn to the Lord and follow his Torah. Her famous quote, "Your people will be my people, and your God my God".

Another traditional activity is the decoration of homes and synagogues with flowers, symbolizing the renewal of nature and the giving of the Torah. It is said that when the Lord gave the Torah to Moses on Mt. Sinai, that the presence of God cause the mountain to come alive and it bloomed with many flowers. 

Food also plays a significant role in the celebration of Shavuot. Dairy-based foods such as cheese blintzes, cheesecake, and milk-based soups are common, as they are believed to symbolize the sweetness of the Torah. 


Origin and Significance

Pentecost is a celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles and other followers of Yeshua Jesus after his ascension. According to the book of Acts, the apostles were gathered in Jerusalem celebrating the Biblical holiday Shavuot when they suddenly heard a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and tongues of fire appeared over their heads. 

The Holy Spirit filled them, enabling them to speak in different languages and share the good news of Jesus with people from many different nations. Pentecost marks the birth of the church and is a time to celebrate the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives and to seek his guidance and power.

How to celebrate

Some people choose to read and reflect on the book of Acts or other passages in the New Testament related to the coming of the Holy Spirit as a way to deepen their understanding of this important event.

The importance of prayer is also considered, as the early believers were unified in prayer with the great signs and wonders took place. Some take this time remember the importance of praying in groups.

Fall Feasts

The Fall Feasts are a series of biblical celebrations that occur in the autumn season, marking key events in the history of the Jewish people and in the life of Jesus. These feasts include Trumpets, Atonement, Tabernacles, and the Last Great Day, and they offer opportunities for spiritual reflection, worship, and renewal.

Rosh Hashanah: Feast of Trumpets

Origin and Significance

Rosh Hashanah or Trumpets is a celebration that occurs on the first day of the new Hebrew calendar year, marked by the sounding of the shofar, a horn made from a ram's horn. In biblical times, the shofar was used to call people together for important events or to announce the arrival of important leaders. 

In a spiritual sense, the shofar represents a call to repentance, a reminder of God's presence, and a summons to come before him in worship and obedience.

How to celebrate

To celebrate Trumpets, many churches offer special services or activities, such as prayer meetings, Bible studies, or musical performances featuring the sound of the shofar. It's traditional to eat something sweet, like apples and honey. Additionally, many individuals choose to spend time in prayer and meditation, seeking God's forgiveness and guidance, and preparing their hearts for the coming fall feasts.

Yom Kippur: Atonement

Origin and Significance

Yom Kippur or Atonement is a celebration that occurs on the tenth day of the seventh month in the Hebrew Jewish calendar, marking the day when the High Priest, the Cohen Gadol, entered the holy of holies to make atonement for the sins of the people. 

In the New Testament, Jesus is seen as the ultimate high priest, who offered himself as a sacrifice for our sins and made a once-for-all atonement for all people. Atonement is a time to reflect on the significance of Jesus' sacrifice and to seek his forgiveness and cleansing.

How to celebrate

To celebrate atonement, many churches offer special services or activities, such as fasting, prayer, or a day of reflection and confession. The fasting associated with Yom Kippur is considered a hard fast, for it includes no food or water. Additionally, many individuals choose to spend time in personal reflection and prayer, seeking God's forgiveness and seeking a deeper understanding of the significance of Jesus' sacrifice.

Sukkot: Feast of Tabernacles

Origin and Significance

Tabernacles is a celebration that occurs on the fifteenth day of the seventh month in the Jewish Hebrew calendar, marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of a time of rest and renewal.

In biblical times, the festival was a time for the people to dwell in temporary booths or tabernacles, as a reminder of their dependence on God and as a symbol of their journey through the wilderness. In a spiritual sense, Tabernacles is a time to reflect on God's provision and protection, and to seek his presence and guidance in our lives.

How to celebrate

To celebrate Tabernacles, many churches offer special services or activities, such as outdoor worship gatherings, picnics, or community meals featuring fresh, seasonal produce. Additionally, many individuals choose to spend time in personal reflection and prayer, seeking God's presence and guidance, and giving thanks for his provision and protection.

The Last Great Day

Origin and Significance

The Last Great Day is a celebration that occurs on the last day of Sukkot/Festival of Tabernacles, marking the end of the fall feasts and a time of final judgment and accountability. 

In biblical times, the festival was a time for the people to reflect on their lives and to prepare for the coming judgment. In a spiritual sense, the Last Great Day is a time to seek God's forgiveness, to confess our sins, and to seek his guidance for the future.

How to celebrate

To celebrate the Last Great Day, many churches offer special services or activities, such as prayer meetings, Bible studies, or a time of communal reflection and confession. Additionally, many individuals choose to spend time in personal reflection and prayer, seeking God's forgiveness and guidance for the future.


The biblical feasts offer a rich tradition and history that dates back to the Old Testament. They provide a way for us to connect with God and deepen our understanding of his presence and plan for our lives.

As we have seen, celebrating the biblical feasts is a meaningful way to connect with God and deepen our faith. Whether through prayer, reflection, or communal activities, these feasts offer a special opportunity to celebrate God's presence in our lives and to seek his guidance for the future.

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A woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years approached him from behind and touched the tzitzit on his robe. For she said to herself, “If I can only touch his robe, I will be healed.” Yeshua turned, saw her and said, “Courage, daughter! Your trust has healed you.” And she was instantly healed.

Matthew 9:20-22 (CJB)