We have had a lot of fun with the kids at church this summer studying the Jewish holidays. It is a subject Christian children often never study, but those holidays tell us so much about the nature of God. As we studied them, we also realized they point to Jesus in really awesome ways.
Yesterday we learned about the Feast of Booths or the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot). This is a great holiday to recreate with your children at home. Originally, the feast partially celebrated the late harvest. It lasted seven days (although a worship service/sacred assembly was also required on an eighth day). It was a feast of celebration – a thanksgiving for all of the blessings God had and would provide for them.
The people were to live in booths for seven days. Today, observant Jews still build booths in yards, on balconies and even on roof tops around the world. People celebrating the holiday spend any time they would have normally spent in their houses, in the booth.
The construction of the booth is important and is something you can do at home. The structure must have three walls at least 32 inches high and the roof should be covered loosely with vegetation so the people in the booth can still see the sky. We didn’t have building materials available, so we used fabric for walls. Our booth ended up being shorter than would be comfortable, so I would suggest using some sort of frame instead.
The children loved building our booth. I had pre-cut some vegetation (small branches), but it would also be fun for your kids to go with you and help choose what to cut for your roof. I have an herb garden, so I also added some herbs to make it smell wonderful. Inside your booth can be as simple as some picnic blankets. If it is large enough, you can add sleeping bags and a table and chairs. We ate a harvest snack made with pears and apples, but any foods from the garden would work.
As we sat in and around our booth, we talked about how much fun it would be to see the stars through the roof of the booth. We talked about the Bible stories they must have discussed in their booths – from Creation – to God’s promise to Abraham (descendants as numerous as the stars) to the wanderings of the Israelites in the wilderness. We talked about those stories, too. I would imagine they may have talked about the Messiah and what his coming would mean to the people of the world. We can tell our children the stories of the life Jesus led on earth and how he will return to take us to Heaven.
Sukkot occurs in early October this year, but you don’t have to wait until then to celebrate it. Build a booth or just pull out your sleeping bags and lawn chairs. Sit under the appearing stars, eating your dinner and enjoying family time. Then tell your children the stories of their heritage – from Adam to Abraham to Moses to Jesus. You will create special memories and place God’s Words on their hearts. When you do, I would love for you to email me a photo of your adventure – especially if you built a booth. I will share your photo (if you would like) on the Parenting Like Hannah Facebook page. You can also tweet a photo and mention @tswinnet and I will re-tweet it to my followers.