Tu B’Shevat: Happy New Year Trees! January 21, 2019 (15 Shevat 5779)
Tu B’Shevat is observed on January 21, 2018 (15 Shevat 5779)
Tu B’Shevat, the 15th of Shevat on the Jewish calendar, is the day that marks the beginning of a “new year” for trees. This is the season in which the earliest-blooming trees in the Land of Israel emerge from their winter sleep and begin a new fruit-bearing cycle.
Tu B’Shevat is also the new year for the purpose of calculating the age of trees for tithing. Fruit from trees may not be eaten during the first three years; the fourth year’s fruit is for God, 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.
Tu B’Shevat Traditions and Activities
Tu B’Shevat Foods and Customs
The Seven Species at the Tu B’Shevat Seder
One custom is to eat a new fruit on this day, or to eat those abundant in the land of Israel. These fruits of Israel are called the Shivat Hamonim; made up of: wheat, barley, grapes (vines), figs, pomegranates, olives and dates (honey). Often a feast is held including drinking both red and white wine, and eating Israeli fruits (such as figs, dates, nuts, etc.), reading quotations from the bible in which the typical Israeli plants are mentioned, telling the history of the holiday, and singing songs about nature and trees in Israel.
Tu B’Shevat Activities
Today, environmental significance has come to play a large role in the celebration of Tu B’Shevat. Many have the tradition to plant trees, donate to environmental causes, dedicate themselves to a more environmentally conscious lifestyle, or simply spend a little time in nature among the trees.