The holiday of Tu B’Shvat begins this evening. It is also called the Holiday of the Trees, and in modern times is celebrated as such. It can in some ways be compared to Arbor Day, though it has deep roots in the Tanach (Hebrew bible) and Mishnah and Talmud.
Tu B’Shvat, the fifteenth day of the Hebrew month Shvat, was set in the Mishnah as the cut off date for the eating of fruits from new trees. For the first three years after planting, Jews are not supposed to eat the fruit from new trees.
Since the early 19th century it has become the holiday for planting new trees, any tree, not just fruit tree. In modern Israel it is customary for schools to arrange days of tree planting on Tu B’Shvat, in cooperation with the Keren Kayemet (Jewish National Fund), and local authorities.
In most years more than one million Israelis will participate in tree planting throughout the country.
As with any holiday, there are the traditional foods. Since Tu B’Shvat falls in the middle of winter, when few fresh fruits are available, the traditional foods are based on dried fruits, almonds, prunes, raisins, dried apricots and figs, among others.
Happy Tu B’Shvat