Unique Tu B’Shvat Customs to Celebrate

January 25th 2018

The open shuks are loaded with fresh, dried, and candied fruits of every type. The aromas of spices and flowers budding are also in the air. All these signs point to one thing: Tu B’Shvat is coming! Tu B’Shvat is a special holiday because we are celebrating a unique birthday: the birthday of the trees. You don’t have to be a hippie or vegetarian to appreciate the significance of this magical day. In fact, it’s a commemoration of growth, blossoming, and birth after struggling through the harsh winters of our lives. These are messages we can all relate to. So, if you are in Israel this Tu B’Shvat, check out a few timely activities you can enjoy during this special occasion for the trees and life itself.

7 Species Tasting

This is many people’s favorite part of the holiday. Since we’re celebrating the birthday of the trees, Tu B’Shvat is the best time to partake in the fruits of the land, as well. Many tourists and locals will indulge in the seven special produces of the land (wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, dates), hosting fruit tasting parties at home or in prominent locations in every city. Join one in progress or make one of your own, and you can also include other fruits you love in any form including cakes, sauces, dried, and fresh varieties.

Plant a Tree

One of the best ways to promote life is to plant life. By planting a tree in Israel, you are supporting the continuity of life and the Jewish people at the same time. If that’s too much for you, then just visit a nursery and purchase smaller plants such as flowers or small potted plants. Anything to invite the essence of growth and rebirth into the world.

Four Cups of Wine

No, you haven’t gotten your holidays mixed up. Even though it isn’t Passover, it has become a popular tradition to drink four cups of wine during the Tu B’Shvat celebrations. Visit a local winery to pick up your favorite Pinot Noir, and sit down for a well-deserved feast:

Cup #1 Dormancy of Winter: This cup should be white wine or light grape juice. The idea is to express the latency of the winter season. Complement these with basic level fruits that have an edible interior but inedible exterior such as bananas, pomegranate, or melons.

Cup #2 Spring Stirrings: The second cup combines a drop of red wine with the white to symbolize the slow and subtle blooming process of the Spring. Though it will still take time, Spring tells us that the fruits of our labor are eminent. Opt for fruits that are soft on the outside but hard on the inside like plums and peaches.

Cup #3 Spring Dominance: With Spring in full gear, we barely remember the only slightly present Winter. Embrace this cup with ⅔ red and ⅓ white, along with fruits such as grapes or strawberries.

Cup #4 Summer Passion: At last, we celebrate the full birth of our labors, the coming of the fruit. A full cup of red wine should be enjoyed with an exciting or especially fragrant fruit or even flower.

You can also volunteer or read special passages from the Torah. Participate in this beautiful holiday when you visit the Holy Land this Tu B’Shvat.