This weekend is a holiday weekend here in Canada with two major holidays taking up the whole weekend. First, there is Yom Kippur, the Day Atonement, which begins Friday evening and ends Saturday evening. This is followed by Canadian Thanksgiving on Sunday and Monday. At first glance, this is a weekend of feast and famine but a closer examination reveals a very different perspective.
For those of the Jewish faith, Yom Kippur is the culmination of the Ten Days of Awe, a time of prayer, reflection and forgiveness. A time to carefully consider options, develop plans, map out strategies and make decisions on how the next year will unfold personally and professionally. It is an opportunity to define what’s working and what needs improvement. Fasting allows the focus to move from the physical to the mental, emotional and spiritual therefore allowing a feast of thoughts and feelings. For one day, time stops and we are speaking to God directly. We also take time to remember our loved ones who are no longer with us through the Yizkor service, the Memorial service. There is an abundance of time to just be quiet and still without the noise and interruptions of daily life. Families and friends often get together for a meal before the fast and to break the fast. After Yom Kippur, we look forward to soon building and eating in the Succah and celebrating Succot, which traditionally celebrated the abundance of the harvest.
Thanksgiving is not as important a holiday as it is in the United States. While it is a secular holiday south of the border, here in Canada it is much more a holiday celebrated by those of the Christian faith. It is a celebration of the abundance of the harvest, a time of gratitude and generosity and a chance for friends and families to share a wonderful meal and enjoy the beautiful sunny days and colourful landscape that Mother Nature bestows on us.
While there is a religious component to both of these holidays, it is the faith that we have in ourselves and in others that makes them so special. Remember to have faith in yourself and in others not only on holidays but every day.