It can be a rude shock to come home after a dreamy vacation, but it helps when that first Monday is Tu B’Av, the Jewish holiday of Love.
And yay! whoopee! goody! That’s today!
“Tu B’Av” literally means the 15th day of the month of Av, which corresponds to the full moon that usually wanders through the sky in all its shining corpulent glory sometime during August every year. If you had a glimpse of Her Silvery Majesty glowing amongst the stars this weekend, you might agree with the notion that our closest heavenly body is looking particularly stunning lately. Perhaps all that global warming is doing wonders for her complexion?
Peoples around the globe have always related the moon to fertility, sexuality, femininity and emotional fluidity, and Tu B’Av is a simple celebration of all that. It’s a pretty minor holiday by Jewish standards, with no real religious obligations or special foods or complex rituals—for 19 centuries the only acknowledgment of it was the omission of prayer of penitence during the morning prayer services. MyJewishLearning.com attributes it to a matchmaking festival for the unattached ladies of the Second Temple era, who would dress in white and check out suitors while dancing in the vineyards (how very Bacchanalian of our ancestors!)
These days it’s basically Israel’s version of Valentine’s Day, with a similar industry of gift-giving and partying down. Its popularity could have much to do with it taking place hot on the heels of last week’s very, very depressing “holiday” of Tisha B’Av, a fast day that’s the culmination of three weeks of mourning for the many hideous and awful things that have happened to the Jewish people on the Ninth day of Av throughout the millennia. Tisha B’Av is the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day of Judaism, and Tu B’Av is a fine way to remember that life can be effortless and lovely once in a full moon.
Even if you didn’t fast on Tisha B’Av or even remember to light a yahrzeit candle because you were up in the mountains without a cell phone or internet let alone a Jewish calendar and were called out later on your Facebook page by a religious friend for being a bad Jew, don’t let that stop you from swilling a little hooch and boogie-ing down under the full moon. After all, I—*ahem*—we can always repent on Yom Kippur. (Technically, Tu B’Av began last night at sundown and ends tonight, but heck, as mountain wisdom dictates: If the bottle’s already open, you might as well finish it.)
Of course, love and the moon are hardly bound by traditions or religion or even our own minds, so here’s a soundtrack that captures the simple joy of Tu B’Av by the Plain White T’s (none of whom are Jewish, in spite of WholePhamily.com’s sincere attempts to find a few agreeable degrees of separation):
Remember to sway to the rhythm of love today and all days!