Wednesday, February 12

Tu B'Shevat with Solomon and the Trees

Did you know that there is a birthday celebration for trees?  Similar to Arbor Day, Tu B'Shevat is a minor Jewish holiday known as the New Year for Trees.  This environmental holiday is the perfect opportunity for connecting with the earth...

In ancient times, Tu Bishvat was not a holiday.  It was simply a date on the calendar that told Jewish farmers when they should bring their produce of fruit from recently planted trees to the Temple as first-fruit offerings.  It was prohibited to eat fruit from trees during the first three years of production (Leviticus 19), and so they brought forth the crops on the fourth year.

Tu B’Shevat is a great holiday for connecting to the environment. In Israel the holiday arrives on the fifteenth of Shevat, along with the first signs of spring. This is perfect timing as the trees are beginning to blossom for the coming year.  The timing is not quite as fortuitous in the United States.

According to the Torah, there are a few foods that made ancient Israel’s agriculture very special: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olive oil, and dates. Together, these ingredients are known as the "seven species." Each represents something special, and it's traditional to enjoy all of them on Tu B'Shevat.

  • Wheat represents kindness, because it is nourishing and easy to find.
  • Barley represents restraint, due to its thick hull.
  • Grapes show beauty, due to their color.
  • Figs represent endurance because they take so long to ripen.
  • Pomegranates symbolize glory because of their crown shape.
  • Olive oil represents foundation, for the staple role that the ingredient plays in many Mediterranean foods.
  • Dates represent kingdom, thanks to their digestive benefits.

In 2020, Tu B'Shevat is celebrated from sundown February 9 to sundown February 10.

Read
  • Solomon and the Trees
    • As a child, Solomon loved the forest and visited it often. But all too soon Solomon grows up and becomes a king. He becomes very busy and forgets about the forest and his friends, the animals. In this lushly illustrated environmental midrash, Solomon comes to understand the price that must be paid when we don't take care of the earth and its blessings.
Younger Children
Watch
Make / Do
  • Plant a Tree
    • Too cold to plant outside?  Try a Bonsai tree for inside!
    • You'll need:  
      • Tree sapling to plant*  (many garden centers have saplings for sale)
      • Potting soil
      • A pot with drainage
      • Water & Fertilizer
    • Easy-peasy steps:
      • Choose a tree that will survive in your climate.
      • Choose a pot that has room for the roots, room for growth, and good drainage.
      • Fill the post 2/3 way with potting soil.  Hollow out a center for the sapling.
      • Pour water into the hollow and place the sapling in.  Cover with soil and pat down.
      • Water, provide sunlight, and fertilize regularly, and watch your tree grow!
  • Start a Compost Bin
  • Create Leaf Art Prints
Cook
  • Host a Tu B'Shevat Seder (printable)  This special Tu B’Shevat meal is split into four sections, each reflecting one of the seasons and symbolizing different aspects of the trees and in our own lives.

4 comments:

  1. I remember seeing Tu B'Shevat on the calendar of Jewish holidays last year and not really knowing what it was. Very interesting!! I love the seven species and what each represents. Thanks for the lesson and for linking up at Homeschool Highlights!

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  2. So cool to learn about this holiday! Thanks for linking up.

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  3. How very interesting! This was not something I really knew anything about.

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