Tu B'Shvat - The New Year for Trees

Tu B'Shvat - Jewish heritage Tour at Neot Kedumim

The New Year for Trees

Neot Kedumim Biblical Nature Reserve provides the perfect setting for celebrating Tu B'shvat, the new year for trees. This is celebrated country wide by hikes into nature, admiring the almond blossoms and planting trees.

The seasonal meaning of Tu B’Shvat

Tu B’Shvat marks the middle of Israel’s rainy season, when the fruit trees begin to awake from their winter dormancy. The name literally means “the 15 th (day) of (the Hebrew month) Shvat”, and falls between mid-January and mid-February. In many regions of Israel, Tu B’Shvat is marked by white flowering almond trees, the first fruit trees to blossom in Israel.

The historical meaning of Tu B’Shvat

Tu B’shvat was never a holiday in biblical times. It was the cut-off date for the annual taxation of fruit – the 10% tithe that was paid to Temple servants (the Cohens and Levites) and to the poor. It is a period of the year and therefore a logical date to establish the start of a new “fiscal year for fruit.” The agricultural significance of Tu B’Shvat was lost when the Romans conquered Israel, destroyed the Second Temple, and scattered the Jews to the far-flung lands of the Diaspora

The modern celebration of Tu B’shvat

With the establishment of the State of Israel, Tu B’Shvat was recreated as a tree-planting holiday. Today, many hold a Tu B’Shvat seder – similar to that of Passover, to mark an ecological connection and awareness of the cycle of nature in Israel.

The Tu B’Shvat Seder 

The custom of a Tu B’Shvat seder was initiated by Kabbalists in the early 16th century in the city of Safed (Tzfat). Over the many generations of the Diaspora, Tu B’Shvat became the date on which dried fruit from the land of Israel were eaten as a reminder of the bounty of the land that was once ours.

The seder consists of anywhere from 4 to 49 different fruits from the Land of Israel as well as the drinking of four cups of wine. Unlike the four cups of wine drunk at the Passover seder, on Tu B’Shvat each cup consists of a different shade of wine from white to deep red, representing the changes in color of Israel’s landscape over the year.

Tu B’Shvat at Neot Kedumim Biblical Nature Reserve

The classic childrens song “HaShkedia Porachat…” (the almond tree is blossoming) comes to life on the hillsides of our Biblical Landscape.  The almond trees are truly blossoming filling the vistas with different shades of pink and white.  The winter sunshine provides the perfect backdrop to wandering the paths and feeling the winter landscape gradually turn into spring.

 

For further details of Tu B’Shvat tours and outdoor activities:

Please check our homepage for activities and tours or contact the Incoming Tourism Department at Neot Kedumim, The Biblical Landscape Reserve in Israel
Telephone: + 972 8 9770782  Telefax: + 972 8 9770766  E-mail: tourism@n-k.org.il