Tu BiSh’vat or the “New Year of the Trees” is Jewish Arbor Day. The holiday is observed on the fifteenth (tu) of Sh’vat. Scholars believe that Tu BiSh’vat was originally an agricultural festival, marking the emergence of spring. After the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.C.E. this holiday was a way for Jews to symbolically bind themselves to their former homeland by eating foods that could be found in Israel. In the seventeenth century, Kabbalists created a ritual for Tu BiSh’vat similar to the Passover seder.
Today, Tu BiSh’vat has also become a tree planting festival in Israel, in which both Israelis and Jews around the world plant trees in honor or in memory of a loved one or friend.
This year, Tu BiSh’vat falls on January 20 – 21.
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