Today is Tu B'Shevat, the Jewish "New Year for Trees". We started celebrating it last week with the blog 'Ima on (and off) the bima', and today we'll write a little bit more on this great holiday. The trees holiday.
Tu B'Shevat is a transliteration of 'the fifteenth of Shevat', the Hebrew date specified as the new year for trees. It is the date used to calculate the age of trees for tithing/taxing. Fruit from trees may not be eaten during the first three years of its life according to the Thora. The fourth year's fruit was to be tithed to the Temple (for god), and after that, anyone can eat its fruit.
The fifteenth of the Hebrew month Shevat was the cutoff date for determining when the fruit of the tree was to be tithed. If the tree was planted prior to Tu B'Shevat, it would be considered to have aged one year. If it was planted afterward, it would become one year old at the following year's Tu B'Shevat. Thus, 'Tu' (the alpha-numeric for the number 15) denotes that the holiday is on the fifteenth day of the Hebrew month of Shevat.
Tu B'Shevat gradually gained religious significance, with a Kabalistic fruit-eating ceremony (like the Passover Seder) being introduced during the 1600s.
Customs associated with Tu B'Shevat include planting trees and eating dried fruits and nuts, especially figs, dates, raisins, and almonds. Over the years Tu B’Shevat has taken on the theme of planting trees in Israel, but because this is a shmita year (the seventh year of the agricultural cycle during which time the Torah prohibits Jews from planting the land), there won't be any plantings celebrations this year in Israel.
For more information on Tu B'Shevat please check these websites:
I love Tu B'Shevat very much. It's one of my favorite holidays and as a kid in Israel I planted trees every year to celebrate Tu B'Shevat. Today I'm happy to be part of Eco-Libris, where with your support, every day is a Tu B'Shevat.
Happy Tu B'Shevat,
Raz @ Eco-Libris
Eco-Libris: plant a tree for every book you read!