Photo: Israel MFA
Today Israelis celebrate Tu B'shvat, (in Hebrew: ט"ו בשבט), a Jewish holiday that occurrs on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shvat.
Known in Israel as “The New Year for the Trees,” Tu B’Shvat has great significance in the agricultural laws that are relevant in the Land of Israel. Tu B’Shvat is the cut-off date in the Hebrew calendar for calculating the age of a fruit-bearing tree. Each tree is considered to have its “birthday” on Tu B’Shvat.
In contemporary Israel, Tu B’Shvat is celebrated as a day of environmental and ecological awareness and trees are planted all around Israel.
Almond trees symbolize Tu B'Shvat in Israel as they blossom throughout Israel during the Holiday.
Planting saplings -. Today it is customary to take children on tree-planting outings on Tu B’Shvat. Preschools and schools hold special ceremonies to mark the holiday. In the past few years, an ecological element has been added to this holiday: the conservation and nurturing of trees (and the green landscape in general) as a symbol of the importance of nature in our lives.
Dried fruits - Another specific Tu B’Shvat custom is the eating of dried fruits. This custom is a carry-over from Jewish life in the Diaspora - when fresh fruits from Israel were not available. Today dried fruits are available everywhere throughout the year, but with the approach of Tu B’Shvat the market stalls and stores are full of special gift baskets.
Tu B’Shvat Seder - Over the past decade the custom of holding a Tu B’Shvat seder - a ceremonial meal - has begun to spread. The seder is based on the model of the Pesach seder, and special prayers and songs have been written about it by Israeli artists. Fresh and dried fruits with which the Land of Israel was blessed are served at the seder, as are four cups of red and white wine.