Tu B’shevat is the Jewish holiday of the New Year for Trees. It begins on Tues., Jan. 30 at sundown.
Judaism has several different “new years” just like we have the calendar year from Jan. to Dec. and the school year from Sept. to May/June.
I have a couple of different tree of life jewelry gift options to celebrate the New Year for Trees. Click on the images to see the jewelry designs. As you know, the Tree of Life is a symbol recognized by several cultures.
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.
There are few customs related to Tu B’Shevat.
- One custom is to eat a new fruit on this day, or to eat from the Seven Species (Shivat Haminim) described in the Bible as being abundant in the land of Israel. The Shivat Haminim are: wheat, barley, grapes (vines), figs, pomegranates, olives and dates (honey) (Deut. 8:8). You can make a nice vegetarian pilaf from the shivat haminim: a bed of cooked bulgar wheat or wheat berries and barley, topped with figs, dates, raisins (grapes), and pomegranate seeds, served with a dressing of olive oil, balsamic vinegar (grapes) and pomegranate juice.
- Some people plant trees on this day or collect money to plant trees in Israel at this time of year.
- In the 16th century, kabbalists, developed a seder ritual conceptually similar to the Pesach (Passover) seder, discussing the spiritual significance of fruits and of the shivat haminim. This custom spread primarily in Sephardic communities, but in recent years it has been getting more attention among Ashkenazim (Eastern European Jews).
- You can have your own Tu B’Shevat Seder following this format from the National Jewish Outreach Program.
- Check with your local synagogue to find out if they’re having a Tu B’shevat Seder.
What new fruit will you eat this year?