As if we did not have enough different new year celebrations in Israel, – we also have one tonight, which is called The New Year of the Trees. Being in the middle of the winter, it is a convenient time to start counting from now on the fruit that belongs to the next year. This was especially relevant during the time of the Temple when they brought tithes of the produce as offerings to the Temple. But even today there are times when it is very useful to know what fruit belongs to which year, as we still have a sabbatical year every seven years when we let the land rest, and this influences on what we do with the fruit as well. (*More about this when we actually get to one of those years! Bli Neder.)
The name of this little holiday is “Tu B’Shvat” which literally means “The fifteenth of the month Shvat”. We celebrate this day by really enjoying the fruit of the trees. Fifteen types, we are supposed to have! (Because of it being the fifteenth of Shvat, you know!) This challenge is probably how the tradition came along of eating dried fruit and nuts as we celebrate Tu B’Shvat. In our days of course, there is an abundance of all kinds of fruits at all kinds of times of the year, but we know it wasn’t always like this, and dried fruit was probably what they had most of at this time of the year.
Anyway, – we enjoy our dried fruits and nuts, right along with our fresh fruits. We are so blessed! And this is an opportunity to show thankfulness to the Creator of it all who keeps on providing for all of our needs!
Another very widespread tradition is to plant trees on Tu B’Shvat. This is of course a very positive and building thing to do, and adds to the zionistic focus of the holiday. A couple of years ago we planted an Almond Tree in our garden on Tu B’Shvat. The Almond Trees blossom at this time of the year, and the flowers come before the leaves on this particular tree, which makes it a unique and beautiful sight!
This year Tu B’Shvat coincides with Shabbat, which just makes it all the more special! We have a good group of friends invited over for tonight, and are looking forward to sitting around the table and enjoy this double celebration with them!
Shabbat Shalom and Tu B’Shvat Sameach to all of you!
PS. Just had to show you my special Tu B’Shvat Challah! 🙂