The holiday of Tu B’Shevat (sometimes spelled Tu BiShvat) is a Jewish holiday that literally translates to "New Year of the Trees." It takes place on the 15th of Shevat in the Hebrew calendar (late January to early February on the Gregorian calendar; in 2018, it starts on sundown on January 30 and ends at nightfall on January 31; for 2019, it begins at sundown on January 21 and ends at nightfall on January 22).
The holiday marks the beginning of spring in Israel; it is one of four annual "new years" described in the Mishnah. Tu B’Shevat is a time to celebrate the natural world by eating its bounty and planting trees. Gratitude is given for the fruits of the Earth and everything that grows.
Tu B’Shevat Customs: Traditionally, a bounty of fruits and vegetables grace the Tu B’Shevat table. In some parts of the world, Jews partake in a Tu B’Shevat seder meal complete with prayers and food blessings. Others celebrate by taking a picnic under the trees or simply making a meal featuring the fruits of the season. Jewish schools often hold outdoor parades; students wear all white and make baskets overflowing with fruit. In Israel, people are encouraged to plant trees and give back to the Earth, which is similar to our U.S. tradition of Arbor Day.
Celebrating Tu B’Shevat with a Vegetarian Meal: In many homes, Tu B'Shevat is celebrated by eating a meatless meal. It impacts the environment in a positive way, plus it gives Jewish families more opportunities to integrate seasonal fruits, vegetables, and grains into the menu. Many households take this day as an opportunity to try a new-to-them piece of produce.
What to Eat on Tu B'Shevat: Typical foods served on Tu B’Shevat include fruits, nuts, grains, and vegetables. In California, the almond trees bloom at this time of year, so almond-laden foods often make an appearance on the holiday table. Those who partake in a Tu B’Shevat seder will eat at least 15 different types of fruits and vegetables. It is also customary to include the seven species mentioned in the Torah: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates.
Here is a meatless Tu B’Shevat menu that you can enjoy with your family.