Tu B’Shevat – Celebrate Trees

Maple in SnowReady for a celebration that enlivens the winter?  Tu B’Shevat is a one-day holiday, often called “The New Year for the Trees,” that starts this year at sunset on January 24th.

In brief, this holiday celebrates the season when the sap begins to rise in trees in Israel, like almond trees.

But if it’s freezing cold where you live, and your trees are covered with snow,  you can give a very simple nod to the holiday in your home by adding some of the fruits and nuts that grow in Israel to your dinner table – like grapes, figs, olives, dates, pomegranates, and almonds.

Stewards of our earth

You can also use this holiday to talk about our responsibility to take care of our earth.

Consider this quote from Chaya Burstein (“The Jewish Earth Day,”Hadassah Magazine, February 2006): “We must expand our celebration to embrace the whole earth.  We must make it a time to sharpen our appreciation — in our urban, high-technology settings — of God’s gifts to us and all living creatures.”

Here are two of her suggestions about ways to celebrate Tu B’Shevat, while enjoying the earth.

  • “Explore the woods.  Look for animal tracks in snow or mud . . .  Build a campfire to roast marshmallows.”
  • “Build a bird feeder and keep it filled.”

For more about the environmental focus of Tu B’Shevat, here’s an article from the National Wildlife Federation site:  http://blog.nwf.org/2011/01/how-to-celebrate-new-years-for-the-trees-or-obscure-jewish-holiday-of-the-month/ It’s a lovely amalgam of personal recollection and information.

Kid-friendly ideas

Check out our Pinterest pages for Tu B’Shevat and Judaism in Nature for craft and recipe ideas.

Here are a few of my faves:

  1. Plan a Nature Scavenger Hunt. Modify what’s on your list to be in line with where you live. For example, include directions like finding something fuzzy, seeds, two kinds of leaves, a beautiful rock, something smooth, and so forth.
  1. Make Food Art in Shapes of Trees. I’m a big fan of using food to make pictures on a plate, like these from Chabad.org. Ingredients needed are provided, but you can modify to what you have in your pantry.
  1. Create trees with paint, tissue squares dipped in glue, and cotton balls, based on guidelines from tippytoecrafts. In this example, the artists created trees for all four seasons.

Your turn

How do YOU engender love of nature in your children? Please share!

For more fun holiday celebration ideas, check out our Pinterest boards.  

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    • Ellen Zimmerman says

      Thank you so much! I shot that image last winter and it was the centerpiece of an exhibit I did with my husband at a local gallery. Really appreciate the nice words 🙂

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