Word "Shavuot" over background of trees and windows.

Holiday Traditions, History & Celebrations

4 Things to Know About Shavuot

1. What is Shavuot?

Shavuot is a Jewish holiday which celebrates the anniversary of the Jews receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai over 3,000 years ago. In English, Shavuot translates to “weeks,” referencing the seven weeks following liberation from slavery in Egypt in which the ancient Jews readied themselves to receive the Torah and become a holy nation. The holiday is considered a “Yom Tov” festival, meaning that work is forbidden and instead Jews are meant to appreciate and study the Torah, the five books of the Hebrew Bible.

2. When is Shavuot?

Shavuot takes place 7 weeks after the first night of Passover, or the sixth day of the Hebrew month Sivan, and lasts 2 days. In 2024, Shavuot takes place  June 11-12 on the Gregorian calendar. The celebration also marks the end of the counting of the Omer, or the period known as Sefirat HaOmer, the 49 day stretch between Passover and Shavuot.

3. How Do Jews Observe Shavuot?

During Shavuot, Jews study Torah through the night in a study session known as “Tikkun Leil Shavuot.” This sleepless learning is considered compensation for the Israelites sleeping in and arriving late to Mount Sinai the day they received the ten commandments, as recounted in the Midrash on the book of Exodus. A more mystical motivation for staying up all night on Shavuot is to bring the divine into every-day (waking) life instead of experiencing the heavens in a dream-like state. Other Jews believe that their prayers are received more clearly at midnight on Shavuot. In addition to the Tikkun, the ten commandments are traditionally recited on the morning of the first day of the holiday.

4. Cultural Shavuot Traditions?

Besides pulling an all-nighter, a typical Shavuot tradition is eating dairy foods such as blintzes and cheesecake. On this holiday Jews eat dairy as the Israelites did, due to their inability to eat the meats they had prepared before receiving the Torah, which were not suitable for the new kosher laws. 

Some choose to decorate their homes and synagogues with flowers on Shavuot out of celebration for the bountiful harvest period that the holiday intersects with.

5. More On Why Jews Don’t Sleep on Shavuot?

According to Exodus Rabbah, on the day the Jews became the “chosen people” and received the Torah, the ancient Israelites slept in. They were late to the most important day in Jewish history, and Moses had to wake them. Read more here…

Man wearing kippah, tefillin, and tallit holds up a Torah.
Focused-in photograph of green leaves
Close-up on printed Hebrew text from a book.
Two blintzes on a plate and a hand picking at sauce on the plate.

Seven Species Salad & other Shavuot Specialties with Vered Guttman

Shavuot, the harvest holiday celebrating receiving the Torah, is known for its delicious dairy dishes. Chef Vered Guttman explores the origins of this tasty tradition and demonstrates some of her favorite Shavuot dishes from across the Jewish diaspora.

Learn how to make feta and eggplant burekas pie, seven species salad, Romanian malai and Israeli cheesecake while discussing the harvest holiday of Shavuot.

 Click here for the recipes.

Woman with small, rectangular glasses and curly hair. On the right, images of cheesecake and seeded bread.