What Is a Sukkah?
Can’t make it to St. Louis for a dinner party under the stars in a Sukkah? Be inspired by these innovative and unique designs and create your own at home. Follow these steps to making your Sukkah a success, then plan a harvest-themed menu and create a dining experience unlike any other to share with friends, family and neighbors alike.
1. Build the Sukkah
When building a sukkah, the material for the roof should come from the earth, and must reveal openings to the sky so its inhabitants can see the stars from within. Materials like palm branches, bamboo reeds, pine tree branches, and wooden slats are common. The sukkah walls must have at least two-and-a-half-foot sides and are often made of canvas or wood. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/andydr)
To assemble, use two-by-fours to rough-out a box-like space, then affix a painter’s drop cloth, shower curtains, plywood, or another material for the sides. Then lash branches or another natural material to the top to create a roof where the sky can still be seen from inside. Not handy with wood and nails? Opt for a pre-made kit that you can assemble yourself.
Still intimidated? Opt for a more kid-friendly building project and make sukkahs using graham crackers, Pretzel Rods, and Twizzlers, all plastered together with peanut butter or cake icing.
2. Decorate the Inside
Use fruits and vegetables of the fall to add color and life to the inside of the structure. This can range from dried squash, pumpkins of all sizes, even a cornucopia filled with produce, nuts, and flowers. For additional charm, place candlesticks or flowers at the center of the table, and arrange a large bunch of palms, grasses, or bamboo in the corners of the structure for added ambiance. The use of bright colors, either by using colorful yarn or animal-shaped mobiles and children’s drawings, will add to the joyful atmosphere. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/Dr. Bacchus)
3. Host a Dinner Party
Hospitality is a key ingredient of a traditional Sukkot celebration. Typically, dishes use plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, similar to those used as décor. Opt for seasonal foods like squash, apples, and pear when planning the menu. A vegetable medley of stewed peppers, onions, squash, and zucchini cooked with olive oil, garlic, and oregano is a common dish (similar to a tomato-less ratatouille), and good to serve alongside a roasted chicken. Though to represent a bountiful harvest, stuffed foods are also often served — like these cheese-filled figs. And don’t forget a sweet finish for any Sukkot meal. A fruit compote with plums or apples or the traditional Jewish pastry, rugelach, filled with raisins, nuts, cinnamon, or chocolate completes the Sukkah dining experience.