Tu B’Shvat celebrates the “New Year” for our leafy friends and the emergence of the first blooms of the new cycle. Some of you are looking out the window at your spouse dressed up as the Michelin Man shoveling snow out of your driveway under spindly, very bare branches and thinking “Man, Jews are whack. Clearly it is WINTER and nothing is going to bloom for MONTHS so stop teasing me, you crazy woman.”
Sorry for tormenting the snowbound among you, but this holiday commemorates the new foliage in the Land of Israel, a place that may know much strife but is mostly spared the hell of freezing over. It began as a way to mark certain tithes in ancient times, but has evolved into a call to stand up for environmental causes and take the time to appreciate nature.
You people in the snow, you can appreciate nature from the window and by joining us in some indoor fun:
Snacking on pomegranates, figs, olives, almonds and other exotic fruits is a traditional way to celebrate Tu B’Shvat. Some folks bring more meaning to the noshing with a Kabbalistic seder and wax spiritual over the gifts from the trees (just make sure the fruit isn’t wax, blaach.) The Jewish Hostess has some gorgeous centerpiece ideas to add color to the table.
While enjoying the earth’s bounty, don’t forget to send some cash to the Jewish National Fund to help reforest the lands scorched in the Carmel fires last month.
My favorite way to ring in this green new year with the kids is with an enthusiastic reading of The Lorax by Dr. Suess and The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. Both these books drive home the message that the great green things outside are more than just scenery—that not only do we need to appreciate the food and oxygen they provide, but that we have a responsibility to protect them. May we all raise children who “speak for the trees.”
Though important and hopeful, those classics are a teeny bit sad, so I recommend singing “Tu-Tu-Tu Tu B’Shvat Tu-Tu” to the tune of “Duke of Earl” to lighten the mood if the little ones get teary when the Lorax floats away—it always helps me. Which reminds me, the title of the post sounds fabulous when sung over Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus.”
To add a little glam to your Jewish Arbor Day, rock Yontifications’ stupendous holiday earrings—little leaves and pomegranates, so precious!
Since I’m an obsessive treehugger anyway, I’ll probably be giving a few inappropriate squeezes to my favorite live oaks in the neighborhood. I was planning on doing a fancy full moon dance around our broccoli plants, because no matter how old I get, I cannot get over how the crowns look exactly like little trees.
But guess who left the chicken coop open a few weeks back, leaving those tender greens at the mercy of the violent pecking of five hungry hens? Let’s just say El Yenta Man may be appreciating Tu B’Shvat under a bush in the front yard.
Chag Sameach, y’all!