Happy Jewish Arbor Day!
In keeping with my resolution to learn about all the Jewish holidays, even the tiny unimportant ones, I hereby announce that today is Tu B’Shevat, AKA the 15th day of the month of Shevat, AKA “Jewish Arbor Day.”
The holiday stems from Genesis 19:23-25:
23And when ye shall come into the land, and shall have planted all manner of trees for food, then ye shall count the fruit thereof as uncircumcised: three years shall it be as uncircumcised unto you: it shall not be eaten of.
24But in the fourth year all the fruit thereof shall be holy to praise the LORD withal.
25And in the fifth year shall ye eat of the fruit thereof, that it may yield unto you the increase thereof: I am the LORD your God.
I guess “uncircumcised” fruit is something like “unclean” or “forbidden” fruit. (Or perhaps a banana still in its skin, ha ha.) Forbidden because it’s not a good idea to eat fruit from an immature tree (I’m guessing).
One source says the holiday is also about tithing — back in the day the Israelites would calculate the age of a tree from this day and thus know when some portion of the fruit could be given to the Temple authorities.
Today it’s traditional to celebrate by eating foods traditionally associated with the land of Israel—almonds, figs, dates, etc.
When I was a kid in Hebrew school (which was hell, by the way) on Tu B’Shevat they’d have us collect money to plant trees in Israel.
This morning I was trying to figure out how to mark the holiday — maybe a lamb tagine with dates? — but then the boy puked up all his oatmeal. It looks like he has the stomach bug that’s been going around.
Therefore we shall be instituting a new way of commemorating Tu B’Shevat, following this obscure Biblical passage:
And when the infant vomiteth, ye shall provideth small sips of Pedialyte.