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First day of Sukkot 2023 in the United Kingdom

Sukkot, also called the Feast of Tabernacles and the Feast of the Ingathering, is a Jewish festival celebrated in September or October. It is considered the most joyous festival of the year.

Rabbi inside a sukkah

©iStockphoto.com/Tova Teitelbaum

Sukkot in the Jewish Calendar

Sukkot begins five days after Yom Kippur, on the 15th day of Tishrei, which is the seventh month of the Jewish calendar. The first day of Sukkot falls in September or October in the Gregorian calendar.

Is the First Day of Sukkot a Public Holiday?

None of the days of Sukkot are bank holidays in the United Kingdom. However, Jewish businesses, organizations, and schools may be closed.

The Sukkah: Living in a Hut

One of the central customs during Sukkot is to dwell in a sukkah, a temporary hut topped with branches. Jewish people are expected not to consume any food or drink outside of the sukkah during the festival period, and some also spend the nights there.

The Four Kinds

Each day of the Sukkot period, with the exception of the Sabbath, involves the ritual of the Four Kinds or Four Species. In the ritual, a blessing is recited while holding 4 types of plants: lulav (a green, closed frond of a date palm tree), hadass (twigs and leaves from a myrtle tree), aravah (twigs and leaves from a willow tree), and etrog (a lemon-like fruit of the citron tree). In Jewish culture, each plant symbolizes a different type of Jew, categorized by their level of Torah knowledge and adherence. During the ritual, the plants are ceremoniously brought together to symbolize Jewish unity and waved in six directions: south, north, east, up, down, and west.

First Two Days Are Yom Tov

In the UK and all other countries outside of Israel, the first 2 days of Sukkot are considered Yom Tov, when it is forbidden to work and a range of restrictions apply. A typical meal on these days includes challah bread dipped in honey. In the evenings, candles are ceremoniously lit.

Following the last day of Sukkot, Hoshana Rabbah, two further Yom Tov are celebrated: Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah. On these days, Jewish people may still use the sukkah but they are not expected to carry out the ritual of the Four Kinds.

In the UK and all other countries except Israel, Shemini Atzeret falls on the 8th day after the beginning of Sukkot and Simchat Torah occurs on the 9th day. In Israel, both fall on the 8th day.

Why Is Sukkot Celebrated?

Sukkot is both an agricultural festival marking the end of the harvest in Israel and a religious observance commemorating God's protection of the Israelites during their escape from Egypt. As a celebration of God's love, it is considered the most joyous festival of the Jewish year.

Who Celebrates Sukkot in the UK?

The United Kingdom is estimated to have the 5th largest Jewish population in the world, with just under 300,000 people practicing the Jewish faith in the country. By far the largest British Jewish community is found in London, followed by those in Manchester and Leeds.

History of Jews in the UK

Jewish settlement in England can be traced as far back as the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066. The Jewish community outnumbered the Spanish and Portuguese communities in England by the 18th century.

Many Jewish families in Eastern Europe moved to England to escape persecution and hardship between 1881 and 1914. About 150,000 Jewish people settled in England, with large numbers staying at London's East End during that time. England continued to receive Jewish immigrants escaping persecution around the time of World War II (1939-1945).

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 First day of Sukkot in Other Countries

Read more about First day of Sukkot.

First day of Sukkot Observances

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

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday Type
2018MonSep 24First day of SukkotJewish Holiday
2019MonOct 14First day of SukkotJewish Holiday
2020SatOct 3First day of SukkotJewish Holiday
2021TueSep 21First day of SukkotJewish Holiday
2022MonOct 10First day of SukkotJewish Holiday
2023SatSep 30First day of SukkotJewish Holiday
2024ThuOct 17First day of SukkotJewish Holiday
2025TueOct 7First day of SukkotJewish Holiday
2026SatSep 26First day of SukkotJewish Holiday
2027SatOct 16First day of SukkotJewish Holiday
2028ThuOct 5First day of SukkotJewish 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.