Tu B'Shvat is the Jewish equivalent to Arbor Day.
The holiday's name is derived from the date on which it is celebrated – the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shvat – which usually occurs on late January or early February.
Traditionally, Tu B'Shvat is considered one of the four dates on the Jewish calendar marking perspective beginnings in the year.
The Talmud cites: "And there are four new year dates: The first of Nisan – new year for kings and festivals; The first of Elul – new year for animal tithes; The first of Tishrei – new year for calculation of the calendar, sabbatical years and jubilees, for planting and sowing; The first of Shvat – new year for trees, according to the school of Shamai; The school of Hillel say: the fifteenth of Shvat." (Rosh Hashana:1a)
Celebrating nature (Illustration: Liquid Library)
The holiday's customs call for planting trees and eating various types of fruits and nuts. Modern Jewish tradition calls for a special meal – a Seder of sorts – dedicated to the holiday.
Tu B'Shvat also marks the Israeli parliament's "birthday": On Tu B'Shvat 5709 to the Jewish count – February 14, 1949 Anno Domini – the Knesset held its first official session.