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Of Trees & Valentines
from sunset of January 15 to Sundown January 16. It is one of the
New Years celebrated in Jewish tradition. This one is the New Year
of the trees or the Jewish “Arbor Day.”
Tu comes from two Hebrew letters
טּ" and "Vav -
with the respective numeric value of: 9 + 6, meaning the 15th
of the month of Shvat. Actually to reach 15 one could add up the letters
יּ” and "He -
which would make into the name of "God" which is not done in Jewish
Tradition. It signifies rebirth and a beginning of springtime.
The almond tree with its connotations of Hope, Love and Peace is
celebrated. It is also reminiscent of the “Tree of Life”, and of
Aaron's rod which turned into a blossoming Almond branch.
The almond tree inspired people.
Israeli painters did landscapes of the hills of Israel with blossoming
almond trees, and Van Gogh was inspired and painted the almond blossom
series to celebrate a birth in his family.
Bi-shvat” thousands of Israelis go out to plant trees – the balance
between the harm that mankind did to nature is being restored.
is also traditional to have a Tu-Bi-shvat “Seder” with a meal including
the fruits of trees:
nuts, a variety of dried fruits such as raisins, and fresh fruit. The traditional fruit include almonds,
and carob, as well as food prepared from the seven species of fruit from Israel - wheat, barley, olives, raisins, figs, dates and pomegranate.
A Tu-Bishvat Seder dish
The seven species
The Chassidic Jews also
prepare candied Citron from the Ethrog (a special large bitter-lemon fruit
that has a very strong aroma blessed at Succot. During the meal four
glasses of wine are drunk with blessings in a particular order, starting
with white wine, followed with white mixed with a bit red wine (or pink
wine), pink wine with a bit of red, and closing with dark red wine, all
this sequence symbolising striving to attain the highest level of
tree gives us shade, shelter and food and we take a day to celebrate it!
The birds have their homes in it too, which brings us to Valentine’s Day.
Chaucer wrote that the 14th of February is the day when the
birds choose their mates. “Valentines day” brings with it messages of
LOVE. According to ancient traditions, lovers' names were drawn from a
cup. “Valentines” were primarily anonymous written messages. In England
young men used to make “heart-shaped” wooden spoons to give as valentines.
It was also believed in England that Jack Valentine was leaving treats for
children at the rear door on February 14. The legends surrounding St.
Valentines Day have to do with St. Valentine the priest who performed
weddings of Roman soldiers and was jailed for it. The story also include
the fact that Julia the daughter of St. Valentines guardian in jail, who
has planted a pink-blossoming Almond Tree next to St. Valentines grave.
How charming it is to know that holidays of different cultures have some
common meanings. (Image taken from public domain
North America there is a commercialised version of giving bought cards,
chocolates and going to a restaurant where a rose is offered to each
lady. So I hope that everybody will celebrate both holidays and enjoy it