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Tu B' Shevat

Updated on March 24, 2013

A Special Jewish Holiday

On February 7th a special Jewish holiday is happening. It's called Tu B' Shevat, also known as The New Year for Trees. "Tu" is not really a word, but it is the number 15 in Hebrew. It is customary to eat a new fruit on this day, or to eat from the Seven Species of fruit trees (shivat haminim) described as being abundant in the land of Israel,in the Bible. Some people plant trees on this holiday and it used to be common for Jewish children to go around collecting money to "plant trees in Israel" at this time of year. This lens will hopefully shed some light on this very special holiday.

It Happened on February 7th 2012

Tu B'Shevat is the new year for the purpose of calculating the age of trees for tithing. See Lev. 19:23-25, which states that fruit from trees may not be eaten during the first three years; the fourth year's fruit is for G-d, and after that, you can eat the fruit. Each tree is considered to have aged one year as of Tu B'Shevat, so if you planted a tree on Shevat 14, it begins its second year the next day, but if you plant a tree two days later, on Shevat 16, it does not reach its second year until the next Tu B'Shevat.

What Do People Do On This Holiday?

There aren't a lot of special customs or observances that are related to this holiday. However, one custom is to eat a new fruit on this special day, or to eat from one of the Seven Species (shivat haminim) described as being available in Israel, in the Bible. The Shevat Haminim are: grapes, figs, pomegranates, dates, olives, wheat and barley. One could make a nice vegetarian pilaf from the shivat haminim: a bed of cooked bulgar wheat or wheat berries and barley, topped off with raisins (grapes), figs, dates, and pomegranate seeds. This could be served with dressing made from balsamic vinegar, olive oil and pomegranate juice.

A lot of people like to plant trees onthis day and it wasn't uncommon for children to go around collecting money for "planting trees in Israel",especially at this time of year. Conducting a seder in the form of a "Tu B' Shevat seder has been getting more attention in recent years, also.

The Importance of Trees......

These are the times for which Tu B' Shevat was created. The rabbis who envisioned this holiday were prophetic: They knew we would need to be reminded on a regular basis about how important trees are to our lives. And trees have never been more important to our survival than they are today.

So what do trees do? Most of us know they produce oxygen and take in carbon dioxide. Less obvious is the crucial role trees and forests play in moderating climate, preventing floods, filtering water pollution, ensuring water supply, lowering energy demands and preventing skin cancer.

A very large, mature oak tree (with a 100-foot diameter canopy) in a deeply mulched setting can retain as much as 57,000 gallons of water -- two swimming pools' worth -- over an average year.

We have become one of the most unsustainable urban areas on the planet. But we can turn that around. And it can start with you this Tu B'Shevat if we take Tu B'Shevat to heart and engage in stewardship and healing of nature, so that nature can heal and protect us.

A List of Dates

List of Dates 

Tu B'Shevat will occur on the following days of the secular calendar:

Jewish Year 5771: sunset January 19, 2011 - nightfall January 20, 2011

Jewish Year 5772: sunset February 7, 2012 - nightfall February 8, 2012

Jewish Year 5773: sunset January 25, 2013 - nightfall January 26, 2013

Jewish Year 5774: sunset January 15, 2014 - nightfall January 16, 2014

Jewish Year 5775: sunset February 3, 2015 - nightfall February 4, 2015

What to Eat on This Special Holiday........

Jewish Holidays on Amazon

If It Had Happened Today........:)

I really like this one.

Tu B' Shavat Guestbook Comments

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      I did not know about this holiday. Thank you for sharing.

    • julescorriere profile image

      Jules Corriere 5 years ago from Jonesborough TN

      I really enjoyed learning about this holiday. Thanks for sharing it.

    • jnstewart profile image

      John Norman Stewart 5 years ago from Cottonwood, CA

      @lbrummer: That's great, lbrummer, happy to hear that you got some points. Thanks for visiting the lens and commenting. I appreciate it. John

    • lbrummer profile image

      Loraine Brummer 5 years ago from Hartington, Nebraska

      I just "liked" this lens and it happens to be my 900th like. Congrats to us both.