*The Feast of Weeks, or Shavuot, is a Jewish holiday, and as such follows the Jewish calendar. It’s held on the 6th and 7th days of the month Sivan. In 2013, that equals sunset on May 14 through nightfall on May 16.
The Bible discusses three holidays that all Jewish men were required to celebrate in Jerusalem: Unleavened Bread or Passover (Pesach), Weeks (Shavuot), and Tabernacles (Sukkot).
“Three times a year all your men must appear before the Lord your God at the place he will choose: at the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Weeks and the Festival of Tabernacles.”
The Feast of Weeks took place seven weeks after Passover. In fact, the word Pentecost comes from the fact that it’s celebrated on the fiftieth day (although the Christian Pentecost is generally celebrated a few days after the Jewish Pentecost, or Feast of Weeks).
Although the Bible is not explicit about this, the festival is generally considered to commemorate when God gave Moses the Torah on Mount Sinai. It is celebrated by study, especially of the Torah, and, in ancient times, giving of the first fruits. In addition, it seems many modern celebrations involve cheese blintzes and cheesecake! Sounds good!
Deuteronomy 26 gives instructions for bringing the first fruits, including a statement to make when you bring your gifts before the altar:
“My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down into Egypt with a few people and lived there and became a great nation, powerful and numerous. But the Egyptians mistreated us and made us suffer, subjecting us to harsh labor. Then we cried out to the Lord, the God of our ancestors, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our misery, toil and oppression. So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders. He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey; and now I bring the first fruits of the soil that you, Lord, have given me.”