Bonfires - Lag ba-Omer has become the bonfire holiday, perhaps in commemoration of the signal fires the rebels lit on the mountaintops to relay messages, and perhaps in memory of Rashbi. For weeks before Lag ba-Omer children gather any scrap wood they can find, and on the eve of this holiday large bonfires are lit and potatoes and onions (and now marshmallows, too) are roasted in the flames. Among secular Jews, the bonfires are the only custom that has remained from the traditions of Lag ba-Omer.
Bows and arrows - In the Diaspora, Jewish youngsters used to go out into the fields on Lag ba-Omer and shoot arrows, perhaps in commemoration of the Bar Kochba revolt; perhaps influenced by the surrounding gentiles. One can still find children here and there who play with bows and arrows on Lag ba-Omer, but this custom is slowly disappearing.
Celebrations in honor of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Rashbi)
- This is a custom that developed among the kabbalists of Safed
in the 16th century and has become a popular folk celebration: on Lag ba-Omer thousands of people have adopted the custom of making a pilgrimage to Rashbi’s tomb in the Galilee, lighting bonfires there in the evening and picnicking throughout the following day. Many religious Jews also bring their three-year-old sons there on Lag ba-Omer for their first haircut.