This year, the New Year of the Trees occurs between sundown on February 7 and nightfall on February 8.
This minor holiday is mentioned in the Old Testament, in Leviticus 19:23-25, as a way to measure the age of trees and when it is appropriate to begin harvesting fruit from the young’uns.
Here’s how it goes: In the first three years, no fruit should be picked. The fourth year is a year to dedicated the fruit to G-d. After that, harvest is allowed.
Makes sense to me as we give the trees time to set their roots firmly and the fruit develops without being tampered with.
The tradition of planting trees on this holiday has been enacted for many years in Israel. Any tree planted during the year is considered to have a birthday when the holiday of Tu b’Shvat arrives.
The holiday is a reminder to pause and reflect on the miracle and bounty of nature. It also marks the beginning of the growing season as we sense the soil warming up as spring approaches.
Some celebrate the holiday by eating items related to the seven species described in the Old Testament. They are:
Why not set aside a day to celebrate the value of trees and their fruit as a source of physical and spiritual sustenance?
- 1 3/4 cups israeli couscous
- 4 Tb extra virgin olive oil
- 20 oz. boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-size chunks
- 4 thick scallions, chopped
- 1 c. dried apricots, chopped
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 cup shelled pistachios
- salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Make couscous according to package instructions and set aside.
- Heat 2 Tb olive oil in a wok, stir-fry pan or saute pan over medium heat.
- Add the chicken and stir fry for about 4 minutes or until meat is white and cooked through.
- Set aside chicken.
- Place remaining 2 Tb of olive oil in the pan.
- add scallions and cook 1-2 minutes or until softened.
- add apricots, cumin,and cinnamon and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes to distribute the ingredients well.
- Stir in pistachio nuts.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve hot or cool to lukewarm.
- makes 4 servings.