Today is a new moon, on October the fifteenth of 2012, a Monday. We don’t think of new moons in our modern age, although we might still observe a full moon just because we like the way it looks or we equate it with a time when people act oddly. But it used to be that a new moon once had significance.
Since the Hebrew year was marked as a lunar year, the new moons would mark the beginning of a new month, and had the spiritual significance of new beginnings, considered Holy convocations in some instance; especially the first new moon of the new year.
There are questions about just what constitute a “new moon”. In the Lunar calender that didn’t seem to be so much of an issue since it was defined as”The New Moon is the beginning or the first day of the month.” We can guess that it is the transition from the full moon to the crescent, presumably with a specific point, such as the visible crescent. However it was, the moon at the beginning of its new phase was the beginning of a new month and so the “beginning” had a certain importance.
During the New Moon observance in ancient Israel the shofar was the blown. It was holy, a Sabbath Day. Worship, singing, and sweet incense was burnt to mark the observance.
A beginning was an important event, taken seriously, entered into joyously.
Today is the change from the month Tishrei to Cheshvan and it has two days set aside:”two Rosh Chodesh (“Head of the Month”) days for the month of (when a month has 30 days, both the last day of the month and the first day of the following month serve as the following month’s Rosh Chodesh). So the two days celebrated this month are the 16th and 17th of October.