For those of you not keeping track of the Jewish calendar, we’re now halfway through the festival of Sukkot, the next-to-last in our month-long marathon of holidays (trust me, the Christmas season has nothing on the Jewish holiday season. We’ve pretty much got at least two festive meals a week for four weeks.) I love Sukkot. Building and decorating the sukkah takes care of any residual Christmas-decorating envy I may have, and it’s a mitzvah to invite guests into the sukkah, which I love to do.
We built our first sukkah several years ago, on the driveway. It was lovely (if poorly lit) until the wind started up one night. The canvas walls acted like an enormous sail, and the next morning we found our entire sukkah lying on its side on our next-door neighbour’s lawn. The next year we tried the backyard, which meant that bringing food and drinks to the sukkah involved walking through the back hallway and through the third bedroom, then down the porch steps, sometimes in the dark. Also, there was no urgency involved in taking it down; I joke that we’re the Jewish equivalent of people who haven’t taken down their Christmas tree by June, because last year’s sukkah was still up as of this past May.
Anyhow, after last year’s debacle in which I pressured Mr. December to set up the sukkah, which we then failed to use (it wasn’t my fault! I gave birth on Erev Sukkot!) he declared that I was on my own. I recruited a friend’s husband to help me build (bartered, actually, for some groceries and a place to bury their placenta – true story.) And build we did! I even used a circular saw to cut the lumber. And the reason I had to cut the lumber? This year we have a new location, the best yet! This year our sukkah is on the front porch.
The banner says “welcome” in Hebrew. The gate keeps the babies inside. The roof, as per Jewish law, is made of a natural material (bamboo) and lets in the rain and the sun. Come inside…
It’s a mitzvah to decorate the sukkah. Some people use strings of lights and tinsel (especially in Israel, where they don’t really associate that stuff with Xmas,) others decorate with fruits, vegetables, and other harvest-themed decor, and still others hang posters of Israel, of great Rabbis, and of quotes from the Torah. I’ve decided that since Sukkot is also called “the season of our happiness” we should decorate the sukkah as we would for a big, joyful party.
All of our decorations are handmade by us, and they dance beautifully when the wind blows through. You might recognize my reusable fabric streamers from last Purim.
A paper chain is an easy craft even for a preschooler. For this one I cut strips from gift bags that were too shabby to be re-gifted. I handed them over to K along with a roll of tape and she spend the next hour engrossed in making the chain.
This banner, and the “welcome” banner, were made using a batik technique involving blue school glue and craft paint. This one depicts a lulav and etrog, or as Wikipedia calls them, the Four Species.
We even have a light in our sukkah. The front porch light is plenty bright in the evenings, and it doesn’t require us to run extension cords at all.
Oh, and those paper balls are from a tutorial by Creative Jewish Mom. Aren’t they cool? I love them so much that I might just bring them inside and hang them in the playroom when Sukkot is over.
So that’s our sukkah. Thanks for visiting, and Chag Sukkot Sameach – Happy Sukkot!