Of all the Jewish holidays celebrated throughout the year, Shavuot is one of the most interesting, varied, and disputed holidays. Shavuot falls on the 6th day of the Jewish month of Sivan, which usually occurs in late May or early June. The holiday officially commemorates the day that God gave Moses the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai.
According to Legend, King David was born and died on the holy day of Shavuot. Some Jews will celebrate it with a trek to Jerusalem for a day of solemn prayer. Jewish people living in Israel generally only celebrate Shavuot for one day, but those who live outside Israel will often hold two-day Shavuot celebrations.
Shavuot is also connected with the grain harvest season. In Israel, barley is typically harvested around the time of Passover, and the wheat harvest falls around the time of Shavuot. Jewish people typically honor Shavuot by eating a lot of dairy food. One explanation for this is that prior to Moses receiving the commandments from God, the Jews had no instruction on how to properly prepare animal meat for consumption. Cheese Blintzes, Cheesecake, and other cheese items are often eaten on Shavuot.
There are several practices associated with Shavuot which the Jews participate in every year. They’ll often spend the night before extensively studying and reading from the Torah (the first 5 books of the Old Testament). This practice dates back to 1533.
In the morning, the Jews will attend a special religious service where they will read a liturgical poem and many passages from the Book of Ruth. They will also decorate their homes with boughs of greenery to symbolize abundance and the new season. This greenery is also thought to represent the Balrush basket that carried Moses down the river when he was a baby.
Shavuot is also a very important day for young Jewish men. In their tenth-grade year, this is their day of Confirmation. During Confirmation, the boy will confirm his devotion to the Jewish faith and vow to practice it for the rest of his life.
There are disputes amongst different Jewish communities about which date Shavuot should actually be celebrated. This is because it is not explicitly stated in the Torah itself. Because of this, it is sometimes celebrated on different days in different parts of the world.