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Shavuot in Australia

Many Jewish Australians 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.

Is Shavuot a Public Holiday?

Shavuot is not a public holiday. It falls on Sunday, June 5, 2022 and most businesses follow regular Sunday opening hours in Australia.

Shavuot is a Jewish festival that has both historical and agricultural significance.

©iStockphoto.com/Tal Naveh

What Do People Do?

Many Jewish Australians celebrate Shavuot by attending social gatherings where they can enjoy a Kiddush (blessing recited over wine or grape juice to sanctify a Jewish holiday), as well as eat dairy products such as with cheesecake or ice cream. Shavuot dinners are also held in Jewish communities in this period. Some dinners feature special guest speakers and discussion topics may focus on the history and meaning of Shavuot.

It is customary for many Jewish people to read the Book of Ruth and study the Torah (the five books of Moses) during Shavuot. Some people also take some of their annual holiday during this time of the year to refrain from 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 public holiday in Australia. However, some Jewish people may take some of their annual leave 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.

Jewish Holidays Last Longer Outside of Israel

In the Jewish diaspora—Jewish communities outside of Israel—an extra day is usually added to religious observances, with the exception of Yom Kippur, which lasts only one day worldwide, and Rosh Hashana, which is celebrated over two days in both Israel and the diaspora.

This custom has its roots in ancient times when the beginning of the months in the Jewish calendar still relied on the sighting of the crescent Moon following a New Moon.

The beginning of a new month was determined by the Sanhedrin, the supreme court of ancient Israel in Jerusalem. Once the date was published, messengers were dispatched to spread the news among Jews living abroad. Since this process took some time, it was decreed that Jews outside of ancient Israel were to observe every holiday for 2 days to make sure that the rules and customs applicable to each holiday were observed on the proper date. This rule is still observed today.

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.

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday Type
2016SunJun 12ShavuotJewish holiday
2017WedMay 31ShavuotJewish holiday
2018SunMay 20ShavuotJewish holiday
2019SunJun 9ShavuotJewish holiday
2020FriMay 29ShavuotJewish holiday
2021MonMay 17ShavuotJewish holiday
2022SunJun 5ShavuotJewish holiday
2023FriMay 26ShavuotJewish holiday
2024WedJun 12ShavuotJewish holiday
2025MonJun 2ShavuotJewish holiday
2026FriMay 22ShavuotJewish holiday

While we diligently research and update our holiday dates, some of the information in the table above may be preliminary. If you find an error, please let us know.