Thursday, January 17, 2008

TT - What the Heck Is Tu B'Shvat?


1. Tu B'Shvat, the 15th day of the Jewish month of Shvat (sometimes written as Shevat), is a holiday also known as the New Year for Trees. The word "Tu" is not really a word; it is the number 15 in Hebrew, as if you were to call the Fourth of July "Iv July" (IV being 4 in Roman numerals).
2. Tu B'Shevat will begin this year at sundown on Monday 21 January and will end at sundown on Tuesday 22 January.

3. Judaism has several different "New Years." This is not as strange a concept as it sounds at first; in America, there is the calendar year (January-December), the school year (September-June), and many businesses have fiscal years. It's basically the same idea with the various Jewish New Years.

4. 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.

5. There are few formal customs or observances related to this holiday. This New Year of trees is not accompanied by a cessation of labor or specified feasting, nor is it mentioned specially in the prayers of the day. In order to make the day special and celebratory, certain supplicatory prayers are omitted.

6. It is customary to eat the fruits associated with the Land of Israel (dates, olives, figs, and pomegranates), and to partake of some new fruit not eaten yet that year, if available. The fruits associated with the Land of Israel are enumerated in Deuteronomy 8:8: "...a land of wheat and barley and (grape) vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and (date) honey" (Deut. 8:8).

7. In Israel, it is customary (especially for children) to plant new saplings or plants on Tu B'Shvat. Jews living outside of Israel often commemorate the holiday by donating money to the Jewish National Fund (the traditional "blue boxes") to plant a tree in Israel.

8. Another long standing custom (among the religious apparently, I've never heard of it) is to pray at this time for an especially beautiful etrog (citron) for the next holiday of Sukkot.

9. Some people have adopted a "Tu B'shvat Seder" for the evening of Tu B'shvat, based upon the writings of the students of the Arizal in the book "Pri Aitz Hadar" ("citrus fruits"). The holiday is celebrated with a "seder" analogous to the Passover night seder, and indeed the night marks the beginning of a 60 day period until Passover.

10. You can an explanation of how to perform this Tu B'shvat seder here.

11. My kids have had a Tu B'Shvat seder in preschool some years, but it's not something we've ever done at home.

12. CafePress apparently sells Tu B'Shvat t-shirts. Who'da thunk it. (Yes, I'm reaching a bit here...)

13. Tu B'Shvat coloring pages and games can be found here.

Factual information about Tu B'Shvat was plagiarized taken from Judaism 101 and JewishByte.


46 comments:

thrivingat30 said...

What an educational post. I had no idea about Tu B'Shvat. Happy TT!

www.mamapj.com

susiej.com said...

Thank you again for this little global education. Common Sense Remedies for ADHD

Sandee (Comedy +) said...

Wow, I didn't know. Very well done. Have a great TT. :)

pussreboots said...

The very first bar mitzvah I attended happened to coincide with Tu B'Shvat. Happy TT and thanks for stopping by.

Greatfullivin said...

Robin you are always so informative! I learn something new everytime. Thanks for this lesson, very well done!

Chelle Y. said...

I always love learning about different holidays and celebrations from other customs. Jewish events seem so much fun.

Nicholas said...

I knew absolutely none of that. Thank you for enlightening us. very interesting.

Sandy Carlson said...

This is very beautiful. Thanks for teaching me about this wonderful holiday. God bless.

Shannon said...

Amazingly informative! I always love learning more about religions of the world. Thanks!

ellen b. said...

Thank you. This was new information for me...

Candy said...

I came across the term once but I never really tried to find out what it meant. Thank you for all the info! :o)

Cricket's Hearth said...

Hmmmm, wow, what alot of info. Very educational and fun to read.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Gee. And here I thought it was the Jewish Arbor Day and it was no biggie.

Clearly, my Hebrew school teachers needed work...

Open Grove Claudia said...

Boy that's really neat. But I have a few questions - I hope you don't mind. What is date honey? As a beekeeper, and that bees are 100 million years old, oh, and there's documentation that the Israelites and Egyptians kept bees, I alway thought the honey was honey created by bees. Do orthodox people eat bee honey? What about the honey cakes? (See I know just enough to feel stupid)

Great post! Happy TT!

Shesawriter said...

Thanks for the lesson, Robin. Very, very interesting. :-) I always learn a lot whenever I visit here.

Happy TT!

My Thursday Thirteen: Favorite American Idols

Phyllis Sommer said...

great post - i linked to you - that whole timezone thing so you are way ahead of me:-)

SJ Reidhead said...

Are you feeling any better? Fascinating, as usual.

SJR
The Pink Flamingo
http://thepinkflamingo.blogharbor.com/blog

Maria said...

Very informative! Neat idea for a TT.

:0)

Maria

infinitygoods said...

Very informative and interesting. Thank you.

Lara Angelina said...

This was so interesting --- and you explained everything so well! Thanks for the education!

xakara said...

I always leave here so informed. I love it!

Happy TT

~X

secret agent mama said...

You learn something new every day! Thank you!

storyteller said...

I always appreciate learning new things so thanks for the "lesson" today.
Hugs and blessings,

This Eclectic Life said...

Coming from an upbringing that included Southern Baptist, Methodist, Episcopalian, and Catholic influences, reading about your faith is always enjoyable for me. Now you have to do a TT about all of the Jewish New Years!

Jen M. said...

A New Year for trees? Again - Judaism is SO COOL.

Head Gaggler said...

Wow, great list. Very informative as always.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Ya know, if the Tour Manager winds up headed your way (now they're thinking March, maybe), we could have your parents ship the new Nikon to us and you could have a hand-delivery that much sooner! (and from a total stranger at that! Woot!)

Believer in Balance said...

Just one of the many things I didn't know anything about. Thanks for the lesson!

Darla said...

Thanks for all this fascinating information! It's an appealing holiday.

H said...

I recently "met" a jewish man, so this is good to know!!!
Thanks.
Helene

Zenmomma said...

Learn something new everyday. Thanks!

Holly said...

I'm another one who had never heard of this - but I'm for anything that will honor trees and nature. Actually I have always thought that the things I've learned about Judaism show that it is a very practical, down-to-earth religion. There are solid reasons behind so many of it's teachings.

Happy TT-13!

Smiles,

Holly
http://theabundanceplace.com

Robin said...

You're a beekeeper Claudia? That's so cool. I'm no expert, but I'll try and answer your questions. First, honey from bees is very popular here and is in fact a significant industry. We actually took the kids to a demonstration at a kibbutz that makes and bottles honey last year. This "regular" honey is a popular ingredient in many traditional Jewish holiday foods (honey cake for Jewish New Year, etc.) As an interesting aside, we had a houseguest last year who is a beekeeper, and he was amazed that bees here don't go dormant over the winter. He was quite jealous of the ability to produce honey year round!

Date honey is simply a different kind of honey. In the book Food In History (a GREAT read) it says that the nomadic peoples of Central Asia probably introduced the world to honey, and that it was present in Egypt by the 3rd millenium BC (and probably much earlier), but it also mentions that date syrup (date "honey") was used in some countries.

Hope this answers your questions :).

emeraldcityguy said...

Interesting and educational post, thanks! Happy TT.

Open Grove Claudia said...

Thank you for taking the time to give such a detailed answer. Amazing! I know bees don't go dormant in equatorial regions and I've actually made a honey cake for a good friend. Cool!

Christine@AreWeThereYetMom said...

Well done Robin. A very interesting Holiday, as I just came across a post from someone recommending planting a tree for Valentine's Day instead of handing out cards. And I agree saving the trees is a very good idea!

Thank you for this lesson!
Happy TT!

cajunvegan said...

What an educational and cultural TT!

Mine is all about reverse psychology this week. Please stop by if you get a chance.

~Virginia~ said...

How neat! I like #7.

LibAnn said...

Great post! You even taught me a thing or two I didn't know. Thanks for that!!

I have mine up if you would like to stop by.

Happy TT everyone!

UL said...

I learn something new everyday...thank you for sharing.

Kelley said...

Again, you amaze me with an educational but easy reading post.

Smootches to you and happy new tree year!

infinitygoods said...

Robin, I just linked to you (01/19/08) regarding this post. :-)

angie said...

I've really enjoyed learning more about Judiasm and customs in Israel over the past few months. Thank s so much for sharing with us.

Fon said...

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Fourier Analyst said...

I had no idea either! Great info! Thanks!!

bermudabluez said...

I didn't know about this either! Very informative post...thanks!!