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Shvat and Adar: The Jewish Months of Winter into Spring

Updated on June 21, 2014

Shvat -- New Year for Trees/ Adar -- Leap Month

Shvat is the month of the New Year for Trees and Adar is the month that is doubled in Jewish leap year.These two months usually occur in the winter in the United States. Though Shvat usually falls in the winter in the US, in Israel it's when the trees are starting to come back and, because of this, we celebrate the New Year for trees and mark the holiday with the eating of fruit.

Tu BiShvat

The New Year of Trees

Tu BiShvat, the 15th day of the month Shvat, is called the New Year of the Trees. In honor of this New Year, it is traditional to eat new fruits. Many people associate figs, dates and carob with Tu BiShvat.

Tu, by the way, stands for the Hebrew letters "Tet-Vav" which, together, represent the number 15. Each Hebrew letter represents a number -- the first ten letters represent the numbers 1-10, the next 9 letters, the numbers (by 10) 20-100 and the last 3 (there are 22 letters in the Hebrew aleph-bet) represent the numbers 200, 300 and 400. Letters are put together into words, but each Hebrew word has a numerical value too. For example, the Hebrew word Chai means life -- the two letters that make up Chai in Hebrew represent the number 18. This is why Jews often contribute $18 or multiples of $18 to charities.

Many people do a Seder (organized meal) for Tu Bishvat (represented by the graphic here). At this Seder, there are four cups of wine (of varying degrees of darkness starting with white, representing winter, and red, representing spring) and many different sorts of fruits (with seeds, with peels, etc.).

Adar and Purim

When Adar Comes in, We Multiply our Joy

Adar is the month that is doubled for leap years. 7 times every 19 years, when the Jewish lunar calendar needs to be adjusted to fit with the solar year, A second Adar is added. In this case, Purim, which is celebrated in Adar, will be celebrated in the second Adar (Adar Sheini).

Purim is a one day holiday (the 14th of Adar, or Adar II in a leap year). The story of the holiday Purim is in the biblical book of Esther. To commemorate what happened, we have several customs that go with the celebration of Purim.

On Purim evening, we read the book of Esther -- children (and, some adults) where costumes and make noise when the name of the villain of the story, Haman, who tried to kill all the Jews but was thwarted in his efforts.

In the morning, we again read the Megilla (the book of Esther). At the reading of the Megilla, we give tzedaka -- charity -- We then deliver Shalah Manot -- baskets of food to friends.

Later on in the day, we have a seuda -- a feast -- shared with family and friends.

Because of a verse in the Megillah, which states that walled cities celebrate Purim on the 15th of Adar, people in Jerusalem celebrate Purim on what is called Shushan Purim, the Purim for the city of Shushan, which was the capital of ancient Persia (which is where the story of Purim took place).

Purim themed products from Amazon - Vote on your favorites

Purim Goodies
Purim Goodies
Purim Goodies is a beautifully illustrated children's book that tells about the many assorted ingredients related to the Purim Holiday and the importance of giving. The book also includes a Recipe for baking Hamantaschen as well as a glossary of Yiddish terms used throughout the story! Who could resist the tempting smell of fresh-baked Purim goodies? Kleineh Adella and Groyseh Adella just can t. And so ... they nibble on the torte, dip into the pudding, pinch the mandelbrot and ... even though t...
Sheva Minim sweat hoodie
Sheva Minim sweat hoodie

Compugraph Designs Printfection Store

In addition to our Cafe Press and Zazzle sites (see modules above), we also have a store on "Printfection" which includes cutting boards (good wedding or housewarming gifts), mugs and cups, tees, etc.

This sweat hoodie (with a graphic of the Sheva Minim -- the 7 types of vegetation native to Israel) is only one of the many items at our store:

Compugraphd Printfection site

(Click on the picture to go directly to this product's page)

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    • profile image


      9 years ago

      A very helpful lens explaining the customs and meaning surrounding the holidays of Tu B'Shvat, Purim, and Leap Month. Blessed.

    • Paula Atwell profile image

      Paula Atwell 

      12 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      Welcome to Judaism, Jewish Holidays, and Jewish Culture.


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