Did you know the moon is what punctuates the Biblical holidays and lifecycles?
The birth of a new moon marks the first day of a new month on the Lunar cycle (Lunar is derived from the latin word, “Luna/Lunaris” meaning “moon”). This Lunar cycle is 29.5 days long. Interestingly enough, the Biblical calendar follows the Lunar cycle starting the day ADONAI brought Israel out of Egypt.
“This month will mark the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year for you.” Exodus 12:2 TLV
In Hebrew, the new moon is referred to as Rosh Chodesh (ראש חודש) which begins a new month on the Biblical calendar. In Judaism, it’s considered a minor holiday and symbolizes renewal and restoration. Minor holidays are not considered a Shabbat, therefore work is permitted.
Living Creation’s Rhythms Monthly
In antiquity, people planned their travel during a full Moon so that they would be able to travel by moonlight when needed. The full moon extends the day for other travel activities and visibility. Have you ever noticed how bright it is outside when there’s a full moon?
A new moon is the phase of the moon when it is in conjunction with the sun and invisible from earth. This makes it very dark outside. Because of this, people were more likely to stay home instead of travel. Back then this could have meant that fathers were home and families were together. I wonder what our lives would feel like if we lived according to nature’s cycles that were established at creation. Nowadays, people are always talking about how we can “connect to the universe” instead of our phones, but what if that was the plan from the beginning?
It would make sense, following God’s divine patterns, that a new month would also begin with — you guessed it — rest.
How was Rosh Chodesh celebrated in the Bible?
According to the Bible, the people of Israel were to give an offering to ADONAI on the first day of every month. Also, people gathered together for fellowship, according to 1 Samuel 20:5.
Rosh Chodesh isn’t a major holiday commanded by God to take the day off. Rosh Chodesh is a small reminder from God saying, “Today is a day of renewal and restoration – a new month begins. Remember, my child, that I am the One who holds your seasons…” It’s a monthly rhythm of thankfulness.
How can I celebrate Rosh Chodesh in Modernity?
Here are 10 meaningful ways to celebrate Rosh Chodesh every month:
1. Give an offering. In Numbers 28:11, the Bible says to give an offering every first of the month. How much should you give? A tithe is ten percent of your income. An offering is any amount above and beyond your tithe. Pray about how much you should give every month and do whatever the Spirit leads you to do.
2. Gather together for fellowship with your family and community. If you or your community already have an activity once a month, consider doing it on Rosh Chodesh. This isn’t a commandment, just a neat idea to get into the Biblical lifecycles.
3. Bless your Wife or Mother – or yourself! Traditionally, Rosh Chodesh has become recognized as a “Woman’s holiday” in that, just like her monthly cycles, she should be given a special time of rest. Exactly what types of work women abstain from on Rosh Chodesh depends on her community and/or family custom. Some women don’t work at all, while others simply abstain from tedious household chores, such as laundry or cooking. If you don’t have a family or community custom – start your own! *Remember, this is traditional – not a Biblical command.
4. Make it a Date Night. Men celebrate Rosh Chodesh, too; it’s not a women’s-only gig. And maybe that’s exactly what you and your husband need. To incorporate this as a new monthly rhythm in your marriage, start by helping him carve out time in his brain, give thanks to God, and let him enjoy the beautiful wife of his youth! Have your groceries delivered ahead of time and go on that date, girl!
5. Learn the Rosh Chodesh blessing. Often Psalms and extra portions of the Torah are recited, and then, while looking at the moon, the following blessing is recited:
יהי רצון מלפניך יהוה אלהינו ואלהי אבותינושתחדש עלינו חדש טוב באדנינו ישוע המשיח אמן“
ye-hi ra-tzon mil-fa-ne-kha ADONAI E-lo-hei-nu ve-lo-hey a-vo-tey-nushe-te-cha-desh a-ley-nu cho-deshtov, ba’a-do-ney-nu Yeshua ha-mashiach, amen.”
“May it be Your will, ADONAI, our God and God of our fathers, that you renew for us a good month in our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, amen.”
6. Buy a telescope and go stargazing. During the New Moon, when the Moon is hidden in the night sky, is the perfect time for stargazing because it’s so dark outside.
When me and my husband bought our first home, I was SO excited to get a telescope. We moved a little ways out from living in downtown and our backyard was so pitch black and the stars twinkled so brightly. We bought our first (very cheap) telescope from a local store and it never worked once. Bummer! So it’s been on my list of things to get (I’ve been researching this one from Amazon. If you have any tips and tricks, drop them in the comment box below!)
7. Blow the Shofar + Read Psalm 81. “Blow the shofar at the New Moon…” Psalms 81:4 When you hear the sound of the shofar – your spirit should immediately stand still and listen. Blowing the shofar on the first of every month is a small way of saying, “God, I acknowledge that You rescued me in my time of trouble. You answered me from the hiding place of thunder. YOU are ADONAI our God who brought us up out of the land of Egypt – today is a special day and I am thankful.” In addition to reading Psalm 81, add Numbers 28:11-15 as an extra reading to your Torah portion that week. We read from this Bible translation. If you don’t have a shofar, get one here!
8. Have a camp fire. This is one of our favorite ways to celebrate Rosh Chodesh! We love having family and friends over to make s’mores together. At one of our recent new moons, my mother-in-love brought light-up balloons over for my one year old to chase around in our backyard (because fire and toddlers don’t mix well) and it was such a blast! Check out these balloons here! They definitely made the night feel like a party! And don’t forget the hot chocolate!
9. Grab a pack of Oreos – or two! Make it a monthly tradition to eat Oreos together every Rosh Chodesh. Open them up, eat some of the cream, and make moon phases out of them and teach your kids the phases of the moon in order!
As you can see, there are many ways to celebrate Rosh Chodesh. In community. A women’s night. A men’s night. A date night. A family board game night! However you decided to celebrate it – give thanks to God for the gift of living another month. Amen!
How do you celebrate Rosh Chodesh? Do you have any family traditions? Comment below + share them with me!