By: Sarity Gervais
In less than two weeks, on the 10th of February 2020, Jews around the world celebrate one of the minor Jewish Holidays, Tu’b’Shvat. It’s named after the date it falls on the Jewish calendar, Tet-vav, or Tu, which is the 15th of the month of Shevat.
The holiday is considered a minor one, though it’s referred to as the New Year of the trees. Properly so, since it occurs in the Spring, and the budding trees in warmer climates pop into a stunning array of flowers that bring fresh beauty and color to the land. The wondrous scent of the blossoms is wafting through the air, signaling the birthday of the trees and the new life.
This is an agricultural holiday and was originated in the Talmud. The scholars based the holiday and its date on calculating the fruit tree’s growth cycles. Its origins are made to honor and remember the tithes from the first fruits of the many trees. The produce was brought to the great temple in Jerusalem as the First Fruit Offering.
Tu’B’Shvat was initially abandoned as a holiday, after the destruction of the Second Temple. I read that in order to keep up hope of returning to the Holy Land, during the Middle Ages, the kabbalists revived it as the symbol of springtime, with the reinstitution of the Seder of Tu’B’Shevat. During this Seder, tradition requires to eat a meal that includes biblical fruits typically grown in the Holy Land. The custom includes drinking four cups of wine, similar to the Passover seder.
It has become a tradition to eat from ‘shivat ha minim’, (the seven species), typically grown in the Land of Israel. The menu includes dishes made with wheat, barley, olives, figs pomegranates, grapes, and dates.
Most of the dishes include dried fruits and a variety of nuts and all that’s needed is imagination and creativity to make the most delicious vegan menu. Other greens are added to the meal, made with wonderfully tasty and healthy recipes. Four glasses of Kosher wine could make even a mediocre menu taste great.
This holiday has been a reminder of our connection to the earth, its importance and sacred value.
Recipes can be found on Tory Ivey’s page: they are vegan or vegetarian, incredibly beautiful to look at and of course Kosher. https://toriavey.com/most-popular/
Aside from the corned beef recipe, everything is made solely from vegetables. Hummus and tahini, quinoa salad and a wide variety of dishes wonderfully flavored with pine nuts, olive oil, and lime juice. My favorite recipe is the baked figs, stuffed with Kosher goat cheese.
These are nine creative ways to celebrate Tu’bshvat.
- Pick fresh fruit and vegetables at a local farm
- Plant seed and trees grow a herb garden
- Eat of the seven species of the land of Israel- barley, pomegranate, wheat, olives, figs, and grapes. Pomegranate juice is a delicious and healthy substitute for wine, for teetotalers and kids
- Build or get a birdhouse or bird feeder and hang it on a tree branch.
- Be artistic and create a unique bench from recycled (reclaimed) wood.
- Clean up a park, pick up litter to make it beautifully enjoyable
- Host a Tu’Bshvat Seder and invent vegetable dishes
- Recycle paper and remind yourself and your kids that paper comes from trees. There will be more green in the environment when we all recycle
- Have a picnic under the trees in your house or the nearest park. If the weather is still too chilly to eat outside, get a large planter, fill it with soil and plant an indoor tree. My Ficus and Elephant palm bushes became giant trees long before the next years’ holiday.