What is Tu B’Shevat and how is the day celebrated?

Tu B’Shvat is all about the fruit (Picture: Getty Images)

The festival of Tu B’Shevat marks the new year for trees, and is one of the major events of the Jewish calendar.

It runs from January 16-17 this year, with celebrations set to be closer to normal this year, after the Covid pandemic curtailed many of the festivities.

The day begins at sundown – as is the case with most Jewish festivals and special days – and runs through until sundown the next day, with fruit and tree-planting set to feature heavily in the celebrations.

But just what is the festival about and what does it involve?

Here’s what you need to know…

What is Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish New Year for trees?

Tu B’Shevat is one of four Jewish new Year celebrations – this one specifically aimed at celebrating agriculture and trees.

The date, which falls on the Jewish month of Shevat – the name literally meaning ’15th day of Shevat’ – marks the beginning of the agricultural year, a time when trees emerge from their winter slumber and begin to bear fruit again.

Planting trees is traditional (Picture: Getty Images)

It is also considered the birth date of trees, with the Torah saying fruit trees should not be harvested for three years after first being planted.

The day is also a time to raise awareness of ecology – with children encouraged to plant trees in Israel and nurture their natural environment.

Those who are celebrating Tu B’Shevat anywhere other than Israel will sometimes raise funds to go towards planting trees there.

The day is also known as Rosh HaShanah La’Ilanot, which literally means ‘New Year Of The Trees’ in Hebrew.

How is the day celebrated?

Tu B’Shevat is not a Yom Tov festival – in other words a day on people refrain from work and other activities.

However that doesn’t mean people don’t celebrate, and for those who do it’s customary to eat lots of fruit and hold huge feasts – known as Tu B’Shevat seders – with family.

Fruit and foods eaten during the day include those associated with the Holy Land and the seven praised by the Torah (grapes, wheat, barley, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates).

Trying new fruits and foods is also encouraged as is drinking four glasses of wine. Fasting during Tu B’Shevat is not encouraged as the day is a celebration.

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