Tomorrow is Tu B’Shevat, the New Year of the Trees, or their birthday. It is the day of the year when all trees, regardless of when they have been planted, turn another year older. The rabbis standardized this day in an effort to minimize complexities, since in the land of Israel, fruit can only be eaten from trees that are four or older (Leviticus 23-25). Tu B’Shevat, then, on a practical level, marks how old fruit bearing trees are.
The holiday has evolved since then. In the 16th century, Kabbalistic mystics developed a seder to celebrate the holiday, which involved eating certain fruits, drinking both red and white wine, saying blessings, and reading certain mystical texts. Each type of fruit one eats has a specific mystical meaning whether the fruit is completely edible (i.e. apple), has an inedible pit (i.e. olive), has an inedible shell (i.e. pistachio) or has a covering one generally wouldn’t eat, but could (i.e. orange). To this day, many congregations observe the holiday by hosting their own Tu B’Shevat seders often ripe with such kabbalistic overtones. Continue reading “When Every Day Will Be Tu B’Shevat by Ivy Helman.”