If you're unfamiliar with the Hebrew calendar, I've written a post about it. Just click on the link in this paragraph.
Anyhow, at sunset tonight (see the link above), the minor Jewish holiday of Tu B'Shevat begins, ending at sunset tomorrow. This holiday is not mentioned in the Bible, but is referred to in the Mishnah, a collected group of oral traditions written down by second century AD Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi.
The name of the holiday literally means "fifteenth of Shevat (the fifth month of the Hebrew calendar)." It is the New Year of the Trees - or sometimes called the Jewish Arbor Day. Tradition states that it originated as the date when the growing season began for Old Testament tithing purposes.
|photo credit: _Blaster_ via photopin cc|
Almond trees are often the first to bloom in Israel
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. And Jews often celebrate this holiday by eating plants that are mentioned in the Old Testament as being abundant in Israel, including wheat, barley, grapes, figs, olives, pomegranates, and dates. Another common thing to do on Tu B'Shevat is to have a tree planted in Israel in your name (or plant one where you live, if possible).
Just FYI - having a tree planted in Israel in your name is a pretty common thing for special occasions - at least among American Jews. I'd guess that there are at least a dozen somewhere in Israel with my name on them ;). At least where I grew up, this was done through the Jewish National Fund. Just a way to help bring streams in the desert (Isaiah 35:6).
Here are the lyrics in both English and Hebrew.
(note, for more information, click on any of the links within this post)
Had you heard of this Jewish holiday? What did you find most interesting?
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