Hebrew Calendar Date: 21st of Tishrei
Torah Reference: Hoshana Rabbah is rabbinic in origin. Mishna Sukkah, 4: 5
When it began:
Hoshana Rabbah began in Temple times. According to the Mishna (Sukkah 4: 5), in Temple times, on the Festival of Tabernacles, huge willow branches were placed around the altar and a circuit was made around the altar while the worshippers recited: "Hoshanah" ("O Lord , deliver us"). On the 7th day of the festival, there were seven circuits.
How it’s observed today:
On the basis of this Temple practice, every day of the Sukkot holiday, congregants circle the bimah, platform, holding the four species while reciting Hoshana hymns for God to save His people. On Hoshana Rabbah there are seven circuits, after which the four species are put aside and bunches of willows are taken in the hand and beaten on the ground three times so that the leaves fall off. Hoshana Rabbah is considered a solemn day because Kabbalah states that the judgement for the new year is not "delivered" until the end of Sukkot (i.e., Hoshana Rabbah, the last day of Sukkot), during which time one can still alter their verdict and decree for the new year.
In many synagogues, the cantor wears a kittel as during the High Holidays.
Blessing each other with פתקא טבא, “a good note,“ conveying a wish that the verdict will be positive.
Some synagogues recite the entire Book of Deuteronomy or the Tehillim, Book of Psalms.
Eating a festive meal, including special foods symbolic for a sweet year.