1. Lag BaOmer Is on the 33rd Day of the Omer

Lag BaOmer is a festive day on the Jewish calendar that falls on the 33rd day of the Omer count. It is thus named because the word “Lag” is made up of the Hebrew letters lamed (ל) and gimel (ג), which have the combined numeric value (gematria) of 33.

Read: Everything You Need to Know About Gematria

2. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai Passed Away

This date, the 18th day of the month of Iyar, marks the anniversary of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai's passing. Rabbi Shimon instructed his disciples to mark it as “the day of my joy,” and so we celebrate his life and the revelation of the esoteric soul of Torah.

Read: Why Celebrate a Day of Death?

3. It Celebrates Kabbalah, the Inner Soul of Torah

Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai was the first to publicly teach Kabbalah—the mystical dimension of the Torah, and is the author of its classic text, the Zohar. Some of the Zohar’s wisdom was actually revealed on Lag BaOmer, shortly before Rabbi Shimon’s passing.

Read: What Is Kabbalah?

4. Rabbi Akiva’s Students Stopped Dying

Lag BaOmer also commemorates the cessation of a plague that ravaged the disciples of Rabbi Akiva, who was Rabbi Shimon's teacher. Because this was a time of death, the Omer period is one of mourning, with various joyous activities proscribed by law and custom. On Lag BaOmer, the day the deaths stopped, we celebrate.

Read: 18 Facts About Rabbi Akiva

5. The Day Has Nothing to Do With Bar Kochba

In popular (Israeli) culture, the common narrative is that Lag BaOmer is a celebration of the brave uprising led by Shimon Bar Kochba against the Romans in the Holy Land almost 2,000 years ago. This is a myth, however, without significant historical benefit.

Read: What Happened to the Bar Kochba Lag BaOmer Connection?

6. It Is a Day for Outings

Lag BaOmer is traditionally celebrated by going out to the fields and woods, where we can most easily appreciate G‑d’s magnificent creation. The springy weather of the Northern Hemisphere often lends itself to picnics, barbecues, sporting activities and other outdoorsy fun.

Read: How to Celebrate Lag BaOmer

7. Rabbi Moshe Isserles Passed Away

Rabbi Moshe Isserles of Cracow (known as “the Rama”) wrote authoritative glosses on the Code of Jewish Law and is regarded as the definitive Halachic authority for Ashkenazic Jews. He passed away on Lag BaOmer in 1572.

Read: The Hidden Manuscript, the Grave and the Tree

8. Archery Is Traditional

Many have the custom to give children (and adults) toy bows and arrows to play with at Lag BaOmer picnics.

Read: Why the Bow and Arrow?

9. Carobs Are Eaten

Carob is traditionally eaten on Lag BaOmer, recalling the carob tree which—along with a spring of water—miraculously sustained Rabbi Shimon and his son for years, as they hid in a cave from the Romans.

Read: How (and Why) We Eat Carob on Lag BaOmer

10. Some People Eat Reddish Eggs

A relatively unknown Lag BaOmer custom, which has deep roots in Chabad history, is to eat eggs that have been boiled with onion peels.

Read: How to Make Red Lag BaOmer Eggs

11. Droves of People Converge on Meron

Meron is a tiny town in Israel’s hilly Galilee where Rabbi Shimon, his son, and other sages are buried. On Lag BaOmer, hundreds of thousands come by bus, car, and even plane to celebrate this special day in Rabbi Shimon’s presence.

Read: Meron: Tomb of Rabbi Shimon

12. Celebrations Turned Tragic in 2021

On Lag BaOmer 5781 (2021), the celebration was marred when unbearable crowding caused hundreds to be crushed together in a tightly packed passageway, leaving 45 dead and hundreds injured. Following calls from family members of the deceased, Jews around the world have channeled the pain into doing more good and increasing Jewish unity, reflecting the spirit of the holiday.

Read: The Lag BaOmer Tragedy

13. Little Boys Get Their First Haircuts

Many have the custom of cutting a boy’s hair for the first time on his third birthday. Little boys who turned three during the Omer period but did not have their first haircut due to the mourning laws, cut their hair on Lag BaOmer, often at Meron.

Read: A Boy’s First Haircut

14. Weddings Are Held

Weddings are not scheduled for much of the Omer season (the exact days vary according to custom), but Lag BaOmer is an exception, and people marry on this joyous day.

Read: 14 Jewish Wedding Facts

15. People Make Bonfires

The earliest mention of this custom is found in a letter written by Rabbi Ovadia of Bertinoro (c. 1445–1515, known for his classic commentary on the Mishnah) to his brother, when he traveled to Israel, where he writes that on this day people would gather and light large fires. In Meron, the main bonfire is kindled each year by the Rebbe of Boyan, who inherited the honor from his ancestor, Rabbi Avrohom Yaakov of Sadigur.

Read: Why Do We Light Bonfires on Lag BaOmer?

16. Parades Were Introduced in the 20th Century

Beginning in the 1950s, the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, encouraged Jewish children to come together in unity and pride in grand Lag BaOmer parades down Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway. Today, there are parades all over the world, from Jerusalem to New Jersey, and everywhere in between.

Watch: The Lag BaOmer 1983 Parade With the Rebbe

17. Tachanun Is Omitted

There is no official ritual or mitzvah associated with the day of Lag Baomer, but Tachanun, the penitential texts that follow morning and afternoon prayers, is omitted starting on the afternoon before Lag BaOmer.

Read: What Is Tachanun?