Psst... This is only our second year celebrating the Biblical Feasts, so if you're new to this, so am I and we're in this together, sister!
It is all very new and exciting (and somewhat mysterious in parts!) to us. We are, by no means, experts in embracing these Biblical Holidays. It is simply my heart to humbly share our journey and hope and pray that our journey may inspire yours...
I want to quickly add that I don't plan to do a post about all the reasons you should celebrate this and not celebrate that (insert mainstream holiday of your choice). I don't consider myself at all qualified to make such statements, nor do I feel it to be my place. What I can do, however, is encourage you to pray earnestly for the Lord to reveal truth to you.
Also, consider reading trust-worthy literature about the origins of many of our common holidays and contrast that with what you see in scripture and what you read about the Biblical Holidays from a Christ-centered perspective. Then - move where you feel led.
So, if you are interested in embracing The Feast of Tabernacles in your home, you may be like me and wonder where on earth to start! This Biblical Holiday is one of the most joyous, exciting ones you can embrace and it will bless your family so richly!
Here are some ideas for celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles (also known as Sukkot):
Read scripture related to the theme of Tabernacles for every day of the Feast
Tabernacles has many themes that are incredibly powerful and worthy of serious discussion around the kitchen table or at circle time with your children. Drawing inspiration from A Family Guide to the Biblical Holidays, I came up with these 7 days of readings for our family. We have first a daily theme or statement of truth related to Sukkot, then a corresponding scripture reading.
Day 1 - Jesus is the Living Water: John 4- the story of the woman at the well (we use a children's story bible and read from there), John 7:37-38
Day 2 - God is our Shelter and Refuge: Isaiah 25:4, Psalm 27:5, Psalm 46:1-3, Deut. 33:27
Day 3 - Jesus washes away our sins: Hebrews 9:13-14
Day 4 - Jesus is the Light of the world: John 1:1-9, 8:12, 9:5
Day 5 - All good gifts (harvest!) come from God: James 1:17
Day 6 - Jesus is preparing our forever home (earth is temporary, like the Sukkah): John 14:2-3
Day 7 - Jesus is Immanuel, God with us: Isaiah 7:14, Ephesians 3:16-19
Day 8 - Review the themes and verses together
Make and Decorate a Sukkah as a family
This is, by far, the most exciting and fun part of The Feast of Tabernacles! Our children already see this as a 'tradition', in the sense that they look forward to it and cherish it! A Sukkah is basically an outdoor dwelling place. This reminds us of a few key ideas:
-our life here on earth is temporary (just like a tent is temporary)
-God is our ultimate shelter and refuge
-Jesus is the Living Tabernacle, through Him and His sacrifice for us, we can have fellowship with the Living God! God dwells with us always (not just in one specific place, like the tent in the desert of the Old Testament)
You can be as simple or elaborate as you choose with your Sukkah, of course. We enjoy using our dining tent which is already on our back deck. We just decorate it in harvest themed decor and add lights, candles, wild flowers - you name it!
We have chosen not to celebrate Christmas in our home. When we made this decision (after much prayer and reflection) we realized we had about 300 'Christmas Tree' decorations to figure out what to do with. There were many that I did give away or donate. Some though, I kept. These were snowflakes, stars, and sparkly lights (which work well for Hanukkah), and several earth toned ornaments and balls which we have used in our Sukkah! We have also used our old lights to light up our home during Biblical Feasts. This is a wonderful way to take those things that do have memories tied to them and repurpose them in another way.
Once our Sukkah is complete, we try to eat as many meals in it as possible for the week of Sukkot. We have one very purposefully 'special' meal on the first night of Sukkot, which is pretty exciting.
Go on a Nature Walk to Look for (and collect!) the Beauty of God's Creation
This year we didn't have a ton of money to buy all kinds of fancy decor and flowers, pumpkins, gourds, etc. for our Sukkah. What we did instead was head out to the woods to collect God's beauty right from where He planted it! It was beautiful!
We cut fresh wild flowers (some would say weeds, I say flowers!), and then we brought them home and arranged them in jugs and jars. This is a lovely fall Nature Study idea or just a fun family activity to enjoy together during Sukkot.
Make Traditional Challah
My dear friend, Faith, taught me how to make traditional Challah bread a couple years ago. This is a special Jewish egg bread which is braided. For us, we make this bread to especially remember Christ's body. It is braided with three strands which also reminds us of the Trinity - Father, Son, Holy Spirit.
Challah is a pretty special treat in our home! For some reason, I thought I had done a post sharing my Challah recipe - but I can't find one. For now, I would encourage you to search Pinterest and the like for a highly rated recipe... they're everywhere.
Make and enjoy a Harvest Soup
I love soup so much some of our friends call us the 'Soup Family'. In my opinion, nothing says harvest like a steaming bowl of nutritious soup full of root vegetables, lentils, peas, beans, herbs... YUM. On a practical note, having a big pot of soup boiling is a really easy way to have dinner ready when you are busy decorating a Sukkah, making Challah, and baking pie... which brings me to the next Sukkot idea...
Bake Apple or Pumpkin Pie (or another harvest-type pie)!
What screams Autumn Harvest louder than apples and pumpkins?! We enjoy baking together and Apple Pie is probably our favourite. We follow the recipe from the back of How to Make and Apple Pie and See the World and it has never failed us!
Sing Hymns and/or Carols together
Along with our monthly hymn study, we will be studying and singing a hymn by Martin Luther called, A Mighty Fortress in our God. There are tons of hymns and carols that speak of the themes of Tabernacles. Since many Biblical scholars believe the actual biblical time of Christ's birth is during the Feast of Tabernacles - you could even sing traditional 'Christmas' Carols. We really love the album Glory in the Highest by Chris Tomlin.
Did you know that many historians suggest that the first "thanksgiving" could really have been a Feast of Tabernacles celebration? The first Pilgrims were puritans. They very well could have celebrated the biblical feasts! Either way, this is a wonderful time to find ways to give thanks to God for His abundant blessings.
Light Candles to Remember that Jesus is the Light
We love the flicker of candlelight. There is something magical about it for children too. So, during most Biblical Holidays, we will have candles for meal times. We also talk about how these candles remind us that Jesus is the Light and we are also to be lights in this world.
I hope this offers some ideas for those seeking to embrace this beautiful celebration.
Other Posts about The Feast of Tabernacles:
Whispers for the Feast of Tabernacles
Whispers from our first Feast of Tabernacles