Jews are commanded to count the days from the Passover celebration.
“ You shall count fifty days…” Leviticus 23:15.
After 49 days have passed... i.e. after a week of weeks (49 = 7 X 7) on the fiftieth day, we celebrate the holiday called "Weeks". In Hebrew the word for weeks is Shavuot. In Yiddish-accented Hebrew the word (and holiday) is Shavuos.
Christians count the week of weeks from Easter and call the day the Pentecost, from the Greek word for 50th; Pentékosté.
For an understanding of Pentecost/Shavuot check out Bridges for Peace, a Christian group and friends of mine.Shavuot marks the giving to us, at Mount Sinai, of the law.
So why do we eat cheese(?!) on this holiday?
"The Jewish people after receiving the Torah could not eat meat products immediately, since the meat that they had was not prepared in accordance with the newly-given laws of the ritual of animal slaughter and the dietary laws. Hence they ate only dairy products on the day of revelation, the holiday of Shavuot." - Rabbi Berel WeinStilton cheese is one of my favorites!
The story about the smelly perfume is here.This year Shavuot will be celebrated on June 2 2006.