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Shavuot in Canada

Many Jewish Canadians 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. Businesses have normal opening hours.

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

©iStockphoto.com/Tal Naveh

What Do People Do?

Many Jewish communities in Canada take part in various traditions to mark Shavuot. Dairy products are traditionally eaten on this day. Some dairy meals may include cheesecake, savory goat cheese strudel, or cheese blintzes (thin pancakes containing cheese). Some people use this time to revisit the Ten Commandments and reflect on the meaning behind each of the commandments. Shavuot also celebrates the bikurim, which is the first fruits that were brought as offerings to the ancient Temple in Jerusalem, so some people make meals out of fruit, including fruit salad.

Many Jewish people read the Book of Ruth and some stay up throughout the night to read the Torah (the five books of Moses). 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 federal public holiday in Canada. 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.

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.