And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years" Genesis 1 v14

The Jewish Calendar

The Jewish holidays appear to shift around relative to our, Western - Gregorian, calendar.  Thus Tabernacles, for instance, may fall in September or October.  This is because the Jewish calendar is Lunar while the western calendar is Solar.

Every four years the western calendar has to add a day ( 29th February ) to keep the calendar in step with the Earth's progress around the Sun.

The beach at Caesarea in Israel

The Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar, with twelve lunar months of 29 or thirty days, which is about ten days short of a solar year, so seven years in every nineteen have an extra month.  This ensures that the seasonal feasts keep to their correct season.     (Seasons = moedim)

Rosh Chodesh is the New Moon, which is the start of each month.  Biblically, Rosh Chodesh was determined by witnesses observing the first thin crescent of the moon.    In days before modern communication the new moon could not be notified to all dispersed communities so Rosh Chodesh is celebrated on two consecutive days outside Israel.   

In Genesis Ch1 v14 GOD said,  "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky ..... to serve to mark the seasons and days of years."    See also Rosh Chodesh to understand the importance of observation of the New Moon, as opposed to calculation.    The same is true of the start of the year - The Month of the Aviv - The biblical year begins when the first new moon after the barley in the land of Israel reaches the state in its development that the Bible calls Aviv.    Only by checking the state of the barley crop can we fulfill the Biblical commandment to "Keep the Month of the Aviv"  (Deut 16:1).    This obviously determines when the other feasts should be celebrated,  for example, the Feast of Unleavened Bread;  ( "at the time of the month of the Aviv, because in the month of the Aviv you went out of Egypt."  -  Exodus 34:18)    (The 19 year cycle is an un-Biblical substitute for this observational method)

In Leviticus 23, Moses instructed the people that Nisan ( or Aviv  or Abib ) was to be the first month.   This is the religious calendar, as opposed to the civil calendar which starts at Rosh Hashanna.  

The seven seasonal feasts start with Passover (Pessach) (14th Nisan), which celebrated the creation of God's nation of Israel, and followed through to Tabernacles (Sukot) which celebrates Ingathering ( both as a harvest celebration and looking to God's ingathering of the righteous).  

Rosh Hashanna  ( New Year ) ( described with Yom Kippur) is now celebrated on the day of the feast of Trumpets.  Thus the Jews start the year with a call to self examination and repentance before God.

Jewish  calendar month Corresponding western calendar months in 2000
Nisan April May
Iyar May June
Sivan June July
Tamuz July August
Av  August
Elul September
Tishri September October
Heshvan October November
Kislev November December
Tevet December January
Shevat January February
Adar February March
Adar Bet (Leap month) March April

Feasts in the year 2013 to 2016 CE (western)    (5774 to 5776 Jewish)
5774 5775 5776
Feast Hebrew date Western date Western date Western date
Rosh Hashanna 1 Tishri 5 Sept 2013 26 Sept 2014 14 Sept 2015
Fast of Gedaliah 3 Tishri 8 Sept 28 Sept 16 Sept
Yom Kippur 10 Tishri 14 Sept 4 Oct 23 Sept
Sukot 15 Tishri 19 Sept 9 Oct 28 Sept
Shemini Atzeret   (8th day) 22 Tishrei 26 Sept 16 Oct 8 Oct
Simchat Torah 23 Tishri   Oct Oct
Chanukah 25 Kislev-3 Tevet 26 Dec 17 Dec 7 Dec
Tu B'Shvat 15 Shvat 16 Jan 2014 4 Feb 2015 25 Jan 2016
Esther / Purim 14 -15Adar 16 Mar 5 March 24 Mar
Erev Pessach  (Seder Night) after 14 Nisan 14 Apr 3 April 22 Apr
Pessach 15-22 Nisan 15 Apr 4 April 23 Apr
Counting of the Omer  (1st day) 23 Nissan 16 Apr 5 April 24 Apr
Yom Hashoah 2 Iyar 28 Apr 16 April 5 May
Independence 3 Iyar 9 May 23 April 12 May
Lag B'Omer Iyar 18 18 May 7 May 26 May
Yom Yerushalayim 27 Iyar 17 May 17 May 5 Jun
Sha Vu Ot 6 Sivan 4 Jun 24 May 12 Jun
17th of Tammuz 17 Tamuz 15 Jul 5 July 24 Jul
Tisha Be Av 9 Av 5 Aug 26 July 14 Aug

has a programme for calculating the calendar, with extra detail, for years ahead.

Download from Aish Luach   
Incidentally, the Jewish calendar is calculated from Creation and therefore needs no BC or AD.   Jewish reference to the Western, Gregorian, calendar are CE or BCE;  CE standing for Common Era and Before Common Era.

Updated 12/01/14

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