Shavuot in the United States

Many Jewish Americans observe Shavuot, which is the second of three major Jewish festivals that focus on historical and agricultural importance. The other two are Passover and Sukkot. Shavuot follows Passover by 50 days. Shavuot occurs on the sixth day of the month of Sivan in the Jewish calendar.

Girl in wheat field
Shavuot is a Jewish festival of both historical and agricultural importance.
Shavuot is a Jewish festival of both historical and agricultural importance.
©iStockphoto.com/Matan Narkiss

What Do People Do?

Many Jewish communities in the United States observe special customs on Shavuot. These activities include reading the Book of Ruth or staying up all night to study the Torah (the five books of Moses). Many Jewish people also eat dairy foods during Shavuot. Many homes are decorated with various plants, including those with flowers. Special prayers are made and candles are lit on this day. Jewish confirmations may also take place at this time of the year.

Some Jewish people take some of their annual holiday during this time of the year so they do not need to work on Shavuot. Some sources say that, according to Jewish custom, no work is permitted on Shavuot except cooking, baking, transferring fire and carrying objects or equipment.

Public Life

Shavuot is not a federal public holiday in the United States. However, some Jewish people may take some of their annual vacation around this time of the year.

Background

Shavuot is the second of three pilgrim festivals and it follows the Passover by 50 days. It is also known as the Festival of Weeks, the Feast of Weeks, or the Feast of the Harvest because it originally marked the end of the seven weeks of the Passover barley harvest and the beginning of the wheat harvest. At one time, Jewish men were expected to bring their first omer, or sheaf, of barley to the Temple in Jerusalem as a thanksgiving offering.

After the period of Jewish slavery in Egypt, Shavuot also celebrated Moses’ return from the top of Mt Sinai with the two stone tablets containing the “Ten Commandments”. These commandments are the most fundamental laws of the Jewish faith. Therefore, Shavuot is also known as the Festival of the Giving of the Law.

About Shavuot in other countries

Read more about Shavuot.

Shavuot Observances

Note: Jewish holidays begin at sundown the day before the date specified for the holiday.
WeekdayDateYearNameHoliday TypeWhere It is Observed
WedMay 192010ShavuotJewish holiday 
WedJun 82011ShavuotJewish holiday 
SunMay 272012ShavuotJewish holiday 
WedMay 152013ShavuotJewish holiday 
WedJun 42014ShavuotJewish holiday 
SunMay 242015ShavuotJewish holiday 
SunJun 122016ShavuotJewish holiday 
WedMay 312017ShavuotJewish holiday 
SunMay 202018ShavuotJewish holiday 
SunJun 92019ShavuotJewish holiday 
FriMay 292020ShavuotJewish holiday 

Quick Facts

Shavuot, also known as the Festival of Weeks, is one of three major Jewish festivals.

Shavuot 2016

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Shavuot 2017

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

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Name in other languages

NameLanguage
ShavuotEnglish
ShavuotSpanish
שבועותHebrew
عيد الأسابيعArabic
오순절Korean
ShavuotNorwegian
SchawuotGerman

Alternative name

Feast of Weeks
Note: Jewish holidays begin at sundown the day before the date specified for the holiday.

List of dates for other years

Other holidays in June 2016 in the United States

United Nation Holiday on June 12, 2016

Fun Holiday on June 12, 2016

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