If you were a fruit…
I’ve always liked Tu Bi’ Shvat, the New Year for (fruit) Trees, which we celebrate today. No particular religious restrictions and lots of traditions to choose from.
In ancient times, the date – 15th of Shvat – was the way of determining the age of a fruit tree. The fruit of a tree couldn’t be eaten for the first three years, the fruit of a four year old tree had be taken to the priests in the Temple as an offering. After that, the fruit belonged to the farmer.
Nowadays, the celebration of Tu Bi’Shvat often has an environmental focus – a time for planting trees. Some people eat the preserved etrog (citron) from the festival of Succot in the Autumn. Others have a Tu Bi’Shvat Seder, echoing the one we hold at Pesach.
As children, we took the Tu (15) of Tu Bi’Shvat very seriously and tried our best to eat 15 different types of fruit, especially those like grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates associated with the land of Israel. The bonus challenge was to eat a fruit that you hadn’t eaten at all that year. The more exotic, the better – and you got to say the blessing for doing something for the first time that year.
But my favourite tradition is to consider what kind of fruit I, or my friends, might be. Are we tough on the outside but soft on the inside like a pineapple or a banana? Or soft on the outside with a hard centre, like a plum or a peach? Or perhaps the same, and accessible, all the way through, like a strawberry?
Which kind of fruit are you?
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