The ten days starting with Rosh Hashanah and ending with Yom Kippur are commonly known as the Days of Awe (Yamim Noraim) or the Days of Repentance. This is a time for serious introspection, a time to consider the sins of the previous year and repent before Yom Kippur.... and by the great polymath The Rev. Sir Doctor Stephen Tyrone Mos Def Colbert, D.F.A.:
One of the ongoing themes of the Days of Awe is the concept that G-d has "books" that he writes our names in, writing down who will live and who will die, who will have a good life and who will have a bad life, for the next year. These books are written in on Rosh Hashanah, but our actions during the Days of Awe can alter G-d's decree. The actions that change the decree are "teshuvah, tefilah and tzedakah," repentance, prayer, good deeds (usually, charity). These "books" are sealed on Yom Kippur. This concept of writing in books is the source of the common greeting during this time is "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year."
Among the customs of this time, it is common to seek reconciliation with people you may have wronged during the course of the year. The Talmud maintains that Yom Kippur atones only for sins between man and G-d. To atone for sins against another person, you must first seek reconciliation with that person, righting the wrongs you committed against them if possible.
Some Jews symbolically cast stones into a river on Rosh Hashanah to symbolise the casting away of sins, and a good rabbi will always remind them that if they had to wade into the river and retrieve those sins to atone for them ... it's a lot harder finding lots of little stones and fishing them out than it is a large boulder.
Because the Kabbala lots have messed with the ceremony, many Jews have dropped it. They incorrectly associate it with the sect, but it is in fact an ancient custom mentioned by Josephus (Antiquities, 14:10, 23):
The decree of those of Halicarnassus. "When Memnon, the son of Orestidas by descent, but by adoption of Euonymus, was priest, on the * * * day of the month Aristerion, the decree of the people, upon the representation of Marcus Alexander, was this: Since we have ever a great regard to piety towards God, and to holiness; and since we aim to follow the people of the Romans, who are the benefactors of all men, and what they have written to us about a league of friendship and mutual assistance between the Jews and our city, and that their sacred offices and accustomed festivals and assemblies may be observed by them; we have decreed, that as many men and women of the Jews as are willing so to do, may celebrate their Sabbaths, and perform their holy offices, according to Jewish laws; and may make their proseuchae at the sea-side, according to the customs of their forefathers; and if any one, whether he be a magistrate or private person, hindereth them from so doing, he shall be liable to a fine, to be applied to the uses of the city."I realise that Olga Palagia is not Jewish, and obviously she is always right and could never do any wrong, so this would never apply to her.
Unlike her, I am Jewish, and I do admit to making mistakes, so I would like to apologise to the archaeologists at Amphipolis. I was far too tactful about dubious scholars casting their even more dubious aspersions about Katerina Persiteri, Michaelis Lefantzis and all the other amazing archaeologists working at Amphipolis. I should have been clearer in saying that neither I nor my colleagues think much of Olga Palagia and her mediocre theories, and whilst Andrew Chubb is puppyish in his enthusiasm, it also isn't helping.
So I apologise to the fabulous team at Amphipolis for having put up with them, and wish them a fabulous New Year!