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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.

Is Shavuot a Public Holiday?

Shavuot is not a public holiday. It falls on Sunday, June 9, 2019 and most businesses follow regular Sunday opening hours in the United States.

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.

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2010WedMay 19ShavuotJewish holiday 
2011WedJun 8ShavuotJewish holiday 
2012SunMay 27ShavuotJewish holiday 
2013WedMay 15ShavuotJewish holiday 
2014WedJun 4ShavuotJewish holiday 
2015SunMay 24ShavuotJewish holiday 
2016SunJun 12ShavuotJewish holiday 
2017WedMay 31ShavuotJewish holiday 
2018SunMay 20ShavuotJewish holiday 
2019SunJun 9ShavuotJewish holiday 
2020FriMay 29ShavuotJewish holiday 

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