For centuries, artists (and photographers like me!) have tried to capture the beauty and majesty of trees. So to have a holiday where we can honor them makes a lovely break from the gray days of winter.
Check out Max Greenberg’s take on the celebration in his article with the funny title from the National Wildlife Federation, “How to Celebrate New Year’s for the Trees, OR: Obscure Jewish Holiday of the Month.”
As the article shares, many Americans who celebrate focus on the seven species of foods that the Torah tell us were grown in ancient Israel, including grapes, figs, dates, pomegranates, olives, wheat, and barley.
Want to get the basics down? Take this simple Tu B’Shevat quiz
According to Chabad.org, “This is the season in which the earliest-blooming trees in the Land of Israel emerge from their winter sleep and begin a new fruit-bearing cycle.”
So while most parts of the United States are still in a deep freeze, and it will be quite a while until we see delicate white and pink blossoms emerging, we can still honor trees for all the gifts they give us.
If you would like to find easy ways to celebrate this year – ways that take only a few minutes – go simple and make it all about the tree.
Even if you only have dinner time and bedtime on Tu B’Shevat, here are three ideas for quickie fun:
Before dinner: invite the kiddoes to make tree art
- For the kindergarten and under set, supply them with one plate each and the fixings for (a) a main course tree: cucumber slices, radish slices, green beans cut in pieces for grass, long carrot slices for trunks or (b) a dessert tree: green grapes, mini marshmallows, chocolate chips, graham crackers broken the long way.
- For 1st grade and up, invite the kids to brainstorm their own trees and let them pull from your pantry. Even corn flakes can be leaves, Nutella can “glue” everything together . . . You get the picture.
During dinner: have a rhyming festival
Our grandkids (toddlers) L.O.V.E. to experiment with the sounds of rhyming words.
And with “trees” as the springboard for impromptu poetry, there are so many choices within their vocabularies:
- squeeze and lots more!
For bedtime: send the kids off to find books that feature trees
Choose a few of those as bedtime stories for that night. They can be about trees or just use trees as illustration/art. In your home library, you’ll probably have a nice variety.
- “The Giving Tree,” Shel Silverstein
- “Where the Wild Things Are,” Maurice Sendak
- “Madeline,” Ludwig Bemelmans
- “The Bee Tree,” Patricia Polacco
- “The Berenstain Bears’ Moving Day,” Stan and Jan Berenstain
Mostly, though, you don’t have the find the books. Your kids will!
Bonus activity: take pictures of the trees in your yard
If your schedule allows you some time before dark, invite the kids to use your iPhone (if that’s permitted in your home) to take pictures of the trees right around you. They can choose close-ups of bark and twigs and berries. Or longer-frame shots of woods in the back or a special oak or pine tree.
If you give them five minutes, all bundled up, to snap these shots, you can look at them together before bedtime.
Want to do more?
Check out our Tu B’Shevat Pinterest board for arts and craft projects, recipes, and lots of activities.
Join us on Facebook, too.
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