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Old Testament Feasts & Festivals

This is a quick reference for major Jewish feasts and festivals established in the Old Testament, whose dates are calculated via a lunar calendar.


Festival of Trumpets / תרועה (Teruah) / רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה (Rosh haShanah)1 Tishri (Sep/Oct)This is the Jewish new year and beginning of the Jewish High Holy Days. The fall feasts are commemorated with trumpet blasts and this feast is a day of rest. It occurs six months (lunar cycles) after Passover. Just as the trumpet (shofar) blasts indicate the new year, a trumpet blast will indicate Jesus’ return to inaugurate a new era of rest: “For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52, BTV).
Day of Atonement / יוֹם כִּפּוּר (Yom Kippur)10 Tishri (Sep/Oct)The Sabbath of Sabbaths. The people fast and confess and repent of their sins committed against God and others. The high priest makes atonement for the people’s sins. This concludes the Jewish High Holy Days. “But when Christ came as high priest of the good things to come, through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands (that is, not of this creation), he entered once for all into the holy places, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:11–12, BTV). This was fulfilled by Jesus and therefore has no recurring equivalent in Orthodox feasts. “By God’s will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10, BTV).
Booths / Tabernacles / Shelters / סֻכּוֹת (Sukkot) / σκηνοπηγία (skēnopēgia)15–21 Tishri (Sep/Oct)This feast commemorates God’s provision when wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. Jews live (or spend some time in) temporary shelters for the 7 days of this feast. Just as God was with the Israelites in the wilderness in the tabernacle, God tabernacled among humanity in Jesus (John 1:14).


Hanukkah / Lights / Dedication / חֲנֻכָּה (Chanukkah) / ἐγκαίνια (Enkainia)25–30 Kislev; 1–2 Tebeth (Nov/Dec/Jan)Commemorates the eviction of Antiochus IV and the Seleucids and the purification and rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem by Judas Maccabeaus in 165 BC. This festival lasts 8 days.
Purim (פּוּרִים)14 Adar (Feb/Mar)Commemorates Esther’s deliverance of the Jewish people.


Passover / פֶּסַח (Pesach) / πάσχα (Pascha)14 Nisan (Mar/Apr)God delivered His people out of slavery in Egypt and the angel of death “passed over” their firstborn sons when they put the blood of the sacrificial lamb on their doorposts. Sts. John, Peter, and Paul associated Jesus with the Passover lamb, whose blood spares humanity from death (e.g., John 1:29; 1 Corinthians 5:7b; 1 Peter 1:19). The Orthodox Church celebrates Pascha, wherein Christ offers Himself as the lamb of God who delivers us from slavery to death by defeating it through His own death.
Unleavened Bread / מַצֹּ֥ות (Matzot) / ἑορτὴ τῶν ἀζύμων (heortē tōn azymōn)15–21 Nisan (Mar/Apr)Connected to the feast of Passover, and was seen as synonymous with it by NT authors (e.g., Matthew 26:17; Mark 14:2, 12; Luke 22:1, 7; John 13:1, 4; 18:28; Acts 12:3–4). The Jews did not use leaven for 7 days, and this was also connected to the barley harvest (Feast of First Fruits). “Purge out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump of dough, since you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed for us. So then, let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Corinthians 5:7–8, BTV).
First Fruits / Harvest / בִּכּוּרִ֖ים (Bikkurim) / ראשׁית הקציר (Reshit haKatzvir)16/22 Nisan (Mar/Apr)This either took place the day following the Feast of Unleavened Bread or on the third day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread / Passover, and is also broadly connected to Passover in the NT. This feast thanks God for the fertility of the land. Leviticus 23:10–11 indicates that “the priest is to wave [a sheaf of the first grain you harvest] on the day after the Sabbath.” Assuming this is a reference to this feast, this would align with the Lord’s Day (Sunday), so just as the firstfruits of the harvest were presented to God, this is also the day that Jesus was “raised from the dead; he has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20, BTV).
Weeks / Pentecost / שָׁבוּעוֹת (Shavuot) / πεντηκοστή (Pentecosti)6 Sivan (May/Jun)Commemorates receiving God’s Law on Mt. Sinai and is connected to the wheat harvest. The Israelites baked leavened bread. This takes place 7 weeks / 50 days after the feast of First Fruits. Likewise, the Orthodox Church celebrates Pentecost 50 days after Pascha. “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:37b–38, BTV). At the feast of Pentecost, God began pouring out His Spirit on all people—Jews and Gentiles (and thereby began to gather the full harvest of His people).