Shavu'ot (the Festival of Weeks) is celebrated seven weeks after the second day of Passover, which falls on the sixth and seventh day of Sivan, in late May and early June. It is one of the three holidays of pilgrimage (Shalosh regalim) named in the Bible, in addition to Passover and Sukkoth. During these holidays, offerings from the first crops harvested were to be laid at the Temple of Jerusalem.

Although in the Bible this day is called the Hag ha-Bikkurim (the Festival of the First Fruits), religious tradition associates this holiday with the giving of the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai.

In synagogal liturgy, this holiday entails an all-night vigil, along with studying the Torah and a ban on listening to the Ten Commandments being read aloud while one is standing up. This custom has its roots in a story from the Midrash, which tells how after Moses came down from Sinai, he had to wake the Israelites, whom he found fast asleep, so they might listen to the Law given to them by God.

According to folk tradition, on this night, people who have not sinned can catch a glimpse of heaven for a fleeting moment, revealing a view of Paradise and the power of God. If one can manage to express one's innermost wish at this moment, it will surely come true.

During the holiday service, the Book of Ruth is also read, because it takes place entirely during the harvest, and Ruth-the heroine of this story�converts to Judaism of her own will. For this reason, her fate is depicted as an allusion to the Jews who received the Commandments in the desert.

Another custom during the Festival of Weeks is to decorate the synagogue and houses of prayer with greenery�with greenery and flowers in memory of the miraculous blossoming the slopes of the Sinai at the moment the Torah was given. The houses are also swathed in greenery, and even today bouquets or wreaths of flowers and herbs are used for decoration.
Up until the late nineteenth century, people in Poland and Russia would put paper cut-outs on the windows, called shevuosim or shevuosl, or royzelech (little roses), because they were round. It was primarily the men and soyfers (writers who would transcribe the Torah scrolls) who would make the shevuos. These delicate, filigreed cut-outs were often decorated with flower, bird, star and animal motifs�particularly those which in Jewish tradition are given divine attributes, such as lions, griffins and stags. It is worth adding that the shevuosim also served as the model for traditional Polish paper cut-outs as well.

Shevuot also has its own culinary traditions. That day, no meat is eaten, since it is thought that after receiving the Torah, the Jews began observing kosher dietary rules. Thus, all kinds of foods prepared with fruit, flour and milk products are served that day instead.

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