Tu B’ Shevat: Birthday of the Trees!

Almond tree in Israel - public domain from Wikimedia Commons
Almond tree in bloom in Israel. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


When God first breathed life into the first human being, the first responsibility he gave that man was to take care of the earth. God gave Adam plants and trees to tend, and animals as companions, before the creation of the first woman (Genesis 2:15-22). Before allowing the earth to be populated by humans, God made sure man understood it was his responsibility to nurture and protect the earth for the coming generations.

We approach the Jewish holiday Tu B’ Shevat with that same spirit of environmental responsibility.

Tu B’ Shevat is the birthday of the trees. It is not a Biblical holiday; it’s not commanded anywhere in the Bible. But it was created as a way to keep track of the age of trees, in accordance with Leviticus 19:23-25, which forbids eating fruit from a tree for the first four years after planting.

The name Tu B’ Shevat simply means the fifteenth day of the Hebrew month of Shevat. On our Gregorian calendar, that day moves around. This year (2016), it starts at sunset this coming Sunday, January 24, and ends at sunset the next day.

Dried fruit and almonds public domain from Wikipedia
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


Tu B’ Shevat Blessing: “Blessed are you, LORD our God, King of the Universe, for creating the fruit of the trees.”

Anyone can celebrate Tu B’ Shevat. You don’t have to be Jewish to thank God for trees! Traditionally we celebrate by eating almonds, because almond trees bud before any other native tree in Israel. And we eat food from among the “Seven Species”: the seven kinds of food for which God praised the land of Israel (Deuteronomy 8:8). These are wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and honey.

Some other celebration ideas

  • Plant a seed.
  • Give seeds or a small plant as a gift to someone.
  • Decorate trees in or around your home.
  • Bake a birthday cake for the trees. Decorate with dried fruit and almonds.
  • Eat a fruit that you have not yet eaten this year.
  • Visit a local park and enjoy the trees.
  • Take a walk, and take pictures of interesting plants and trees. Look them up online and learn about them.
  • Make dried fruit. Here’s how.
  • Help replant a national forest in America by donating to the Arbor Day Foundation. Each $1 plants one tree. Certificates are available for dedicating trees in celebration or in memory of a loved one (purchase of 10 trees required for the certificate).
  • Help replant trees in Israel by donating to the Jewish National Fund. Each $18 plants one tree. Certificates are available for dedicating trees in celebration or in memory of a loved one.

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” –Jesus (Luke 12:48)

To learn more about the symbolism of trees in the Bible, including the Seven Species, check out the eighteen-minute audio teaching Trees in the Bible, at HIS-Israel.com.

What will you be doing for Tu B’ Shevat this year?



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