Today is the first day of the seven-day Jewish Festival, Sukkot.
Sukkot takes place on the fifth day of Yom Kippur, and is known to be one of the most joyous and ecstatic festivals in the Jewish calendar. The transition to Sukkot always seems very drastic because Sukkot is preceded by one of the most quiet, solemn days in the Jewish calendar.
Sukkot has a dual significance: historical and agricultural. Historically, the festival commemorates the 40-year period that the people of Israel wandered in the desert. To reflect upon this 40-year journey it is common for Jewish families to build a Sukkah, a form of temporary shelter. A Sukkah can be built almost from any material, but it must have at least two and a half walls covered with a material that will not blow away in the wind. The Sukkah symbolizes the way the people of Israel lived in the desert for 40 years. It is common to decorate the Sukkah, meals are eaten there, and some people sleep in there as well for the duration of the festival.
Agriculturally, Sukkot celebrates the time of harvest.