The History of Tu B’Shevat

PrintIn 2020, Tu B’Shevat falls on Sunset of Sunday, February 9 through Sunset of Monday, February 10.
The letters of the word “Tu” are equivalent to the number 15, and Shevat is the name of a month in the Hebrew Calendar. So, Tu B’Shevat means the 15th day of Shevat. It usually falls in January or February in the secular calendar. While it may be cold and wintry in many locations at this time of year, in Israel trees are beginning to blossom.
The Bible does not mention the holiday of Tu B’Shevat. It likely started as a folk festival to celebrate the changing seasons and was celebrated by priests taking portions of their harvest to the Temple in Jerusalem.
After the Temple was destroyed in 70 CE, Tu B’Shevat took on new and different meanings.
Today, for many Jews, Tu B’Shevat is an opportunity to appreciate nature and the environment. It is a holiday about rebirth and renewal. In Israel, Tu B’Shevat celebrates the beginning of the fruit crop.
Some Jews celebrate Tu B’Shevat by having a Tu B’Shevat seder, a meal that follows a particular order (modeled on a Passover seder).
The Bible mentions seven species, and these have become traditional Tu B’Shevat snacks: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates.

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