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Shavuot is one of the major holidays in the Jewish tradition. It is observed on the sixth day of Sivan, the third month of the Jewish calendar (or for two days in certain traditions). On the Western Calendar for 2012, this is May 27.

It is also known as the Feast of the Harvest and the Feast of Weeks and also as Pentecost, a name given by Greek Jews a great many years ago.

The association with harvest has a connection with Passover as well. In Israel in ancient days, Jews would harvest grain for seven weeks, beginning with barley (during Passover) and ending with wheat (at Shavuot). The festival of Shavuot marked the end of the harvesting season, in the same way that Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles) marks the end of the fruit harvest.

Shavuot is also associated with the Ten Commandments and Moses giving them to the people after receiving them from Yahweh on Mount Sinai. On the holiday itself, Jews gather together and read from the Torah both passages containing the Ten Commandments and the Book of Ruth, which describes a grain harvest.

On Shavuot, Jews also eat dairy foods to remember the description of ancient Israel as "the land of milk and honey."

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David White