1. Shabbat Lasts From Sundown on Friday to Nightfall on Saturday

Every week, for the 25 hours beginning just before sundown on Friday until after night has fallen on Saturday night, Jewish people celebrate Shabbat, a period of rest and spiritual rejuvenation.

Read: What Is Shabbat?

2. The Day Before Is Special Too

“He who toils on the eve of Shabbat,” say the sages, “will eat on Shabbat.” Shabbat is treated as an honored guest, and Friday (or even Thursday night) in a Jewish home is dedicated to preparing for her arrival. For this reason, in addition to calling it yom shishi (“the sixth day”), Jews refer to Friday as erev Shabbat, the “eve of Sabbath.”

Read: Preparing for Shabbat

3. Women Light Shabbat Candles

Jewish women and girls (or men, when there are no women present) light Shabbat candles 18 minutes before sunset on Friday afternoon and on the eve of Jewish holidays, often in the dining room where the festive holiday meal will soon take place. Single girls and women light one candle, and married women light (at least) two candles.

Read: 15 Shabbat Candle Facts Every Jewish Woman (and Man) Should Know

4. Shabbat Is Super Important in Judaism

Shabbat is the fourth of the 10 Commandments and repeated over and over again in the Torah, making it one of the most important elements of Judaism. In fact, Shabbat is so central to Jewish life that in common parlance the term shomer Shabbat (Shabbat observer) is synonymous with “religious Jew.”

Read: The Miracle of Early Shabbat

5. It Can Be Called Shabbat or Shabbos

The Hebrew term Shabbat was Anglicized as Sabbath. The traditional Ashkenazi pronunciation is SHAH-bus. Sephardim (and Modern Hebrew speakers), on the other hand, call it shah-BAHT.

Read: The Great “Shabbat vs. Shabbos” Debate

6. There Are Several Shabbat Greetings

The Hebrew salutation, used by Sephardim of Eastern descent and those who favor modern Hebrew, is “Shabbat shalom,” which means “Sabbath [of] peace.”

The traditional Yiddish greeting of Ashkenazi Jews is “Gut Shabbos,” which means “Good Sabbath.” This greeting is used in place of both “hello” and “goodbye.” When used in parting, however, it is modified slightly to “Ah gutten Shabbos.”

If you cannot remember the Yiddish nuances, just say “Good Shabbos” every time, and you’ll be in very good company.

Read: How to Greet others on Shabbat

7. Torah Gives Us Two Reasons for Shabbat

The 10 Commandments are listed twice in the Torah, first in Exodus and again in Deuteronomy. In the Exodus version, we are told to keep Shabbat “for [in] six days the L‑rd made the heaven and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and He rested on the seventh day.” In Deuteronomy, we are told to commemorate that “you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and that the L‑rd your G‑d took you out from there with a strong hand and with an outstretched arm.”

Read: Why Two Versions of the 10 Commandments?

8. The Revelation at Sinai Happened on Shabbat

The most significant point in Jewish history was the Revelation at Sinai, when G‑d communicated the 10 Commandments and struck a covenant with the Jewish people after He took them out of Egypt. This magnificent moment, according to the sages of the Talmud, took place on Shabbat.

Read: What Happened at Sinai?

9. 39 Types of Action Are Forbidden on Shabbat

While “work” is generally defined as activities that generate funds or require significant energy, the work we avoid on Shabbat is defined somewhat more broadly. The sages of the Talmud enumerate 39 forbidden creative acts, each of which is a “father” with many “offsprings” that are also forbidden due to their intrinsic similarity to the parent act. For example, the melachah of kindling/cooking contains driving (which is powered by combustion), turning on and off lights, and operating electrical appliances.

Read: The 39 Melachot

10. Tractate Shabbat Has a Whopping 24 Chapters

The complex application of the 39 melachot and their permutations is addressed in the Talmud, the central text of Rabbinic Judaism. Tractate Shabbat is one of the largest in the Talmud, with 24 chapters, second only to Tractate Kelim, which has 30.

Read: What Is the Talmud?

11. We Eat 3 meals on Shabbat

“And you shall declare the Shabbat a delight,” says the prophet Isaiah. Indeed, feasting is a big part of Shabbat observance. We eat (at least) three meals on Shabbat: one on Friday night, one the next day, and a smaller one in the late afternoon.

Read: What to Expect at Shabbat Dinner?

12. Angels Accompany Us on Friday Night

Tradition tells us that two angels accompany us on our way to the Friday night meal. This gave birth to the classic Shabbat song Shalom Aleichem, in which we welcome the angels to our home, ask them to bless us, and then send them on their way. This is often followed by Eishet Chayil, Solomon’s famous ode to the Woman of Valor.

Read: Why We Sing Shalom Aleichem

13. Kiddush: We Verbally Toast Shabbat Over Wine

The Torah commands us to “remember the Sabbath day to sanctify it.” The sages understand this to mean that we must verbally declare Shabbat a holy day, so on Friday night, before we sit down to dinner, we say a prayer over wine in a ritual known as kiddush (sanctification). (A truncated kiddush is recited again the following day).

Read: What Is Kiddush?

14. We Start Each Meal With Two Loaves of Challah

We begin each Shabbat meal by reciting the hamotzi blessing over two loaves of bread. It is traditional to use braided loaves known as challah. After the bread is sliced, it is dipped in salt and distributed to all present.

Read: Why Two Loaves of Challah on Shabbat?

15. It Is Customary to Eat Fish

The first course of a Shabbat dinner is often fish, prepared in a variety of ways reflecting the diverse cultures where the Jewish people have lived throughout our long history. Morrocan Jews make delicious fish tagine, while an Ashkenazi staple is gefilte fish, made of ground fish and minced vegetables. A contemporary Shabbat favorite is sushi salad, made with kosher surimi, rice, and bits of vegetable.

Read: Why Eat Fish on Friday Night?

16. Hot Favorites Are Chicken Soup and Cholent

While it is forbidden to cook on Shabbat, it is permitted, under certain circumstances, to allow food to remain on an existing flame over Shabbat. Thus, it is customary to enjoy chicken soup (with matzah balls) on Friday nights. The following day, many Ashkenazim enjoy cholent, a melange of meat, beans, barley, and potatoes that has been stewing since Friday. The Sephardic equivalent is known as dafina or hameen.

Watch: Why We Eat Hot Food on Shabbat

17. Shabbat Is Greeted Like a Queen or Bride

On Friday night, as the sun sets, it is customary to sing a collection of Psalms followed by the mystical poem of Lecha Dodi, in which we serenade the descending sweetness of Shabbat, whom we address as both a beautiful bride and beloved queen.

This concept goes all the way back to the Talmud, where we read that Rabbi Chanina would wrap himself in festive garments on Shabbat eve and say, “Come, and we will go out to greet Shabbat the queen.” Another sage, Rabbi Yannai, would don his festive garment on Shabbat eve and say, “Enter, O bride. Enter, O bride.”

Read: Four Reasons We Call Shabbat a Bride and Queen

18. Shabbat Morning Services Are the Longest of the Week

Jewish people worship in the synagogue every morning, afternoon, and evening. Of course, this includes Shabbat. Since Shabbat is a day of rest and spiritual connection, it is only natural that Shabbat services are somewhat longer with more singing and extra additions.

Read: What to Expect at Shabbat Morning Services

19. Parshah: Another Portion of the Torah Is Read Every Shabbat

A highlight of the Shabbat morning service is when the Torah scroll is removed from the Holy Ark and read aloud. The Torah is divided into 53 parts (sometimes calculated as 54). Every week, we read another portion, called a parshah, completing the entire scroll annually on Simchat Torah. Every parshah has a name (taken from one of its first words), and that name is given to the entire week leading up to the Shabbat on which that portion is read, during which the parshah’s text, themes, and lessons are studied.

Study: This Week’s Parshah

20. Shabbat Morning Reception Is Called ‘Kiddush’

Shabbat morning services are often (but not always) followed by a communal lunch, which can range from some simple crackers and dips to an elaborate sit-down feast. Known as a kiddush, this is the time to schmooze (chat) with your fellow congregants and enjoy some unhurried Shabbat socializing.

21. We Sleep Extra on Shabbat

The word Shabbat (שבת) is said to be an acronym for shinah beshabbat taanug, “sleep on Shabbat [is a] pleasure.” Favorite Shabbat pastimes include Torah study, napping, and strolling. Relaxing quality-time with family and friends is also a unique Shabbat delight.

Read: Why Do We Sleep?

22. We Don’t Carry Outside an ‘Eruv’ on Shabbat

On Shabbat, one of the 39 forbidden activities is to carry any item a distance of four cubits (approximately six feet) or more within a public domain. This also includes transporting things from a private domain into a public one, or vice versa. In this context, “private” and “public” have little to do with who holds the deed and everything to do with the physical properties and function of the area.

Certain areas with small populations can be made into private domains by constructing a barrier known as an eruv. Today, many Jewish neighborhoods are enclosed by an eruv, enabling people to push strollers, carry books to synagogue, or carry their keys when they go on a Shabbat stroll.

Read: Why Do Jews Carry in an Eruv on Shabbat?

23. Shabbat Is Escorted Out With Chanting, Wine, Spices & Flames

Just like we welcome Shabbat with kiddush over wine, we say a similar text, known as havdalah, after Shabbat ends. This short but beautiful ceremony incorporates sniffing fragrant spices (to restore our spirits, which have been dampened by the departure Shabbat) and benefitting from fire (to celebrate that fire may once again be used).

Read: How to Make Havdalah

24. Saturday Night Is Special, Too!

The evening following Shabbat is known as motzaei Shabbat, “the departure of Shabbat,” during which we still enjoy the afterglow of the day. It is customary to enjoy yet another feast this evening, called a melaveh malka (“escorting the queen”). It is common to tell stories of righteous people.

Read: The Melaveh Malkah

25. Shabbat Is a Prelude to the Era of Moshiach

Shabbat, a day of rest and spiritual bliss, is a prelude to the pleasure we will experience in the era of Moshiach, when peace and plenty will prevail, and G‑d’s presence will be clear for all to see. It is no surprise, therefore, that we are told that the reward for keeping Shabbat is the arrival of Moshiach. May it happen in our days. Amen!

Read: What Will Happen When Moshiach Comes?