This year, Lag B'Omer is Saturday, May 22, 2011, at sundown until Sunday, May 23 at sundown.
While the Omer is a time of mourning and sadness, Lag B'Omer is a day of joy! Many people observe some form of mourning rituals during the Omer, but these restrictions are lifted on Lag B'Omer. They may or may not continue the mourning restrictions after Lag B'Omer.
There are several reasons given for why Lag B'Omer is a happy day:
- The Talmud says that 24,000 of Rabbi Akiva's students died from a divine plague because they didn't show each other proper respect. Tradition says that this plague ended on Lag B'Omer.
- Lag B'Omer is the yartzheit of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, who is considered the author of the Zohar.
- Lag B'Omer also celebrates the temporary victory of the Bar Kochba revolt over the Romans.
How do people celebrate Lag B'Omer? The simplest way is to have a picnic outdoors! People also schedule haircuts (many people do not cut their hair during the Omer), weddings (ditto), parties (you get the idea), and concerts (yup). In Israel (and in some places outside Israel), Lag B'Omer is celebrated with huge bonfires. If you're doing this, be careful!
Now go schedule yourself a haircut!