One of the most important Jewish holidays is right around the corner. Come September 15 at sundown, the Jewish New Year begins. Rosh Hashanah, for those who don’t know, is the Jewish New Year celebrated from sundown to sundown. On this holiday, our actions will have a significant effect on the upcoming new year.

As per tradition passed down by ancestors, many Jewish households will serve some of the following traditional dishes at their Rosh Hashanah meal. With this Jewish New Year, make sure to be extra intentional with the Rosh Hashanah foods you are eating and what they symbolize in our culture. Who else remembers going to temple each year as a kid and running to the honey sticks as soon as services ended? My brothers and I had about 10 sticks each with a side of apple. It's the best holiday of the year, coming from a Jewish foodie.

If you’re a college student struggling to find ways to celebrate the holiday, it can be as easy as eating an apple with a side of honey. To ring in a sweet, happy, and healthy new year, Jews indulge in foods that are sweet and have symbolic meaning behind them in that eating them will foreshadow a sweet year ahead. 

1. Apples and honey

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Each year, mostly every Jew looks forward to this staple Rosh Hashanah dish. It's arguably the most common food combo eaten during the holiday. Sweet yet fresh, this combo is a favorite amongst all Jews. The sweetness from both the honey and apples symbolize the beginning of a sweet new year. 

2. Challah

A warm, delicious dough that is baked to perfection, challah is a must at any Jewish holiday. During Rosh Hashanah, challah will usually be made specially with cinnamon or raisins to add additional sweetness for the new year. A circular challah is made to symbolize the end of a full year and the beginning of a new year, a cycle, if you will. One thing's for sure — everybody will be fighting over this delicious golden braided bread. 

#SpoonTip: Try making your own bread this year with this cinnamon challah recipe.

3. Pomegranates (Rimon)

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Pomegranates are another sweet food to add to your Rosh Hashanah meal. Pomegranates are often eaten as “the new fruit,” or a fruit you haven’t eaten yet this year. It’s also said, in Jewish fashion, that pomegranates contain 613 seeds, which can be connected to the 613 commandments in the Torah. It’s believed that the seeds represent the many good deeds we wish to do in the upcoming year. This luscious fruit will make your teeth red, but it's filled with great flavor. Pomegranates are packed full of seeds and just like the fruit, we hope that we'll have that same full virtue in the upcoming year. 

4. Fish Head

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Fish head may not seem like the sweetest dish in the world, and that’s because it isn’t. It has a whole different meaning to add to your Rosh Hashanah meal. A fish head is a common dish at a Rosh Hashanah dinner. The head symbolizes the fact that we are leaders, not followers (the end of the tail). This means that we should look forward to the upcoming year and make progress, rather than looking behind us in the past. Who wouldn't want to stare at a fish head while enjoying a nice meal with family?

5. Leeks (Karti)

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The word leek in Hebrew is karti which translates to the English word "cut." This symbolic vegetable is placed on the Rosh Hashanah table to remind us that those who wish hatred upon us be "cut off" and disregarded. Even though this may seem a bit dark, this symbolic vegetable helps people focus on the hope that the future will bring. Good chives only on this holiday. 

6. Beets (Salka)

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Beets have a similar significance as leeks on this holiday. Beets represent our wish to remove any of our enemies from our path. Selek, beet in Hebrew, represents the word “removal.” Eat lots of beets in hopes of getting rid of any toxic people in your life.

7. Gourds (Ka'ra)

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This might seem strange, but gourds have a significant meaning for Jews on this holiday. The Hebrew word for gourd is related to the Hebrew homonyms pronounced k’ra. This translates to “to rip.” During this holiday, we ask God to rip up any evil against us and present us with new and good opportunities. It also represents tearing away any bad deeds you might’ve done. What’s more fitting than a gourd for a fall holiday? This is the time of year where gourds are in peak season, so they’re the perfect food to serve.

8. Dates (T'marim)

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When I think of sweet fruits, dates are definitely what come to mind. A candy-like fruit that I could eat 100 of if I wanted to, lucky for me, this fruit is a significant part of Rosh Hashanah and a common thing to serve throughout the holiday. In addition to their sweetness commencing a sweet new year, the Hebrew word for date is t’marim, which is similar to the word tam which translates to “to end.” This translation represents the hope to end any grievances and enemies. Additionally, dates are one of the Seven Spices of Israel, making it a holy food to consume. 

9. Carrots

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The Yiddish word meren is translated to both “carrots” and “to increase.” So, carrots symbolize our hope that our merits will increase in the new year. They are commonly served as a tzimmes, a sweet carrot-based stew. You might not have the kitchen or time to prepare this gourmet dish, but even something as simple as snacking on some carrots throughout the day would be in the spirit of the holiday.

10. Wine

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Lehayim! Or the English translation — to life! At any Jewish holiday, there is always a excess of wine at the table. This symbolic drink gives a toast to the new year, and even children will partake with sparkling or regular grape juice.  A meal would not be complete without a big glass of Manischewitz (a kosher-certified) wine.