Sukkot is celebrated on the 15th day of the month of Tishrei according to the Hebrew calendar, i.e. late September or early October. It is one of the three Pilgrimage Festivals (Shalosh Regalim in Hebrew). On these Festivals, the ancient Jews made pilgrimages to Jerusalem so that they could participate in festivities and offer sacrifices at the Temple.
Sukkot begins on the 5th day after Yom Kippur and changes the manner of celebration – from the solemn celebration of Yom Kippur to the cheerful celebration of Sukkot. It lasts seven days, out of which only the first day is celebrated as a full festival with prayer and holiday meals.
The Hebrew word sukkot is the plural of sukkah, which designates booth or tabernacle. The meaning of the holiday of Sukkot is both agricultural and historical; from a historical perspective, Sukkot relates to the forty years the Jews wandered in the desert after the Exodus from Egypt. From an agricultural perspective, it is an expression of gratitude for the autumn harvest.
The sukkah is supposed to have at least three sides, while the fourth one may be open. It is made of sticks, palm tree branches, leaves and reeds. The roof is temporary and made of branches to let in the sunrays while allowing a view of the stars at night. Meals are served in the sukkah during the festival and many people sleep there as well.