Every Lag B’Omer morning since moving to Israel, I have had the same experience: waking up and breathing in the air of a billion bonfires. This morning was no different.
In a vacant plot near to us, the local authority had this year authorized a LagB’Omer event, thus guaranteeing a nearby gathering of people around several bonfires. The kids gather the wood for these fires in the days before the event, and can often be seen dragging the material along the street towards the bonfire site. I am not sure if there is some kind of cultural protocol that prevents looting of wood from a nearby, competitor’s bonfire, or if they set up a rota of guards.
It starts off with family groups, and then mums and dads go home, leaving the teenagers to stay up all night and party. They were a bit rowdy around 3.00 AM, but by 6.00 AM only a handful remained, and one solitary, small, bonfire crackled and cracked to accompany the appearance of the morning light. The cleanup crew were also starting to assemble.
Given the common method of celebrating the holiday, it’s too easy to lose its significance, or to forget its roots. See here for a decent explanation. And see here for a piece on the events at Meron to celebrate Lag B’Omer at Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai‘s tomb. Now that is a Lag B’Omer sensation..