Joy is meant to be an integral part of Jewish holidays. “You shall rejoice in your festival”, states Deuteronomy 16:14. In Temple times, eating of the shelmim sacrifice was how we rejoiced. Today things are not so straightforward.
Maimonides wrote tha
t we should celebrate with our families, “each person in the way that is fitting for him”. He recommends meat and wine, buying clothes and jewellery for women and sweets and goodies for children. These sound like suggestions; joy is a subjective thing and different things make different people happy.
On one point, though, Maimonides is emphatic: when you eat and drink on festivals, you must also include widows, orphans and the poor and unfortunate. If you lock your doors and celebrate while leaving the poor and bitter of spirit outside, this is not the joy of doing a mitzvah, but it is just “the joy of your stomach”. Joy must be shared.