Sukkot (Hebrew: סוכות or סֻכּוֹת, sukkōt), commonly translated as Feast of Tabernacles, traditional Ashkenazi pronunciation Sukkos or Succos; also known as Chag HaAsif (חג האסיף), the Feast of Ingathering, is a biblical Jewish holiday celebrated on the 15th day of the seventh month, Tishrei (varies from late September to late October). During the existence of the Jerusalem Temple, it was one of the Three Pilgrimage Festivals (Hebrew: שלוש רגלים, shalosh regalim) on which the Israeliteswere commanded to perform a pilgrimage to the Temple.
The names used in the Torah are Chag HaAsif, literally “Feast of Ingathering” or “Harvest Festival,” and Chag HaSukkot, literally “Festival of Booths.” This corresponds to the double significance of Sukkot. The one mentioned in the Book of Exodus is agricultural in nature—”Feast of Ingathering at the year’s end” (Exodus 34:22)—and marks the end of the harvest time and thus of the agricultural year in the Land of Israel. The more elaborate religious significance from the Book of Leviticus is that of commemorating the Exodus and the dependence of the People of Israel on the will of God (Leviticus 23:42-43).
The holiday lasts seven days in Israel and eight in the diaspora. The first day (and second day in the diaspora) is a Shabbat-like holiday when work is forbidden. This is followed by intermediate days called Chol Hamoed, when certain work is permitted. The festival is closed with another Shabbat-like holiday called Shemini Atzeret (one day in Israel, two days in the diaspora, where the second day is called Simchat Torah). Shemini Atzeret coincides with the eighth day of Sukkot outside Israel.
The Hebrew word sukkōt is the plural of sukkah, “booth” or “tabernacle,” which is a walled structure covered with s’chach (plant material such as overgrowth or palm leaves). A sukkah is the name of the temporary dwelling in which farmers would live during harvesting, a fact connecting to the agricultural significance of the holiday stressed by the Book of Exodus. As stated in Leviticus, it is also intended as a reminiscence of the type of fragile dwellings in which the Israelites dwelt during their 40 years of travel in the desert after the Exodus from slavery in Egypt. Throughout the holiday, meals are eaten inside the sukkah and many people sleep there as well.
On each day of the holiday it is mandatory to perform a waving ceremony with the Four Species.