Holiday of the Trees
Hebrew Calendar Date: The fifteenth of Shevat
Torah reference: The Holiday of Tu B’Shevat is of Rabbinical origin, discussed in the Mishnah, Tractate Rosh Hashanah.
When it began:
Tu B’Shevat was instituted as soon as the Jewish people settled in the land of Israel (after the 7 years of conquering the land) in order to be able to fulfill the biblical commandment of Terumos Umaasros –the produce tithes given as some of the 48 gifts God granted the Kohanim and Levites as compensation for their Temple Service.
Other Names for Tu B’Shevat:
Tu B’Shevat is a relatively recent name; the date was originally called Chamisha Asar B'Shevat which also means Fifteenth of Shevat. It is also called Rosh Hashanah La'ilanot (New Year of the Trees).
How it’s observed today:
In keeping with the Mishnaic description of the holiday as a New Year for the Fruits, Tu B'Shevat is celebrated with eating a wide variety of fresh and dried fruits, including the shivat haminim, the seven species of fruits that the biblical land of Israel is blessed with in abundance.
Many Sephardic Jews celebrate the Tu B’Shevat Seder, a feast of fruits and four cups of wine.
Some Jews pickle or candy the etrog from Sukkot and eat it on Tu B’Shevat, praying that they will be worthy of a beautiful etrog the following Sukkot.