Happy Tu B’Shevat! Known as the New Year of the Trees, or even Jewish Arbor Day, this holiday is a Jewish celebration of nature and the coming of spring (even though it may not feel like it in the United States). You can learn more about the festival here.
Many people make a seder for erev Tu B’Shevat, though they’re less structured than their Passover equivalents in virtually every way. If you’d like to throw a holiday shindig of your own, try serving some fig bread in honor of the ancient holiday custom of eating dried fruits and preserves—here’s a recipe inspired by the fig bread made by the Jews of Spain). Seder traditions include eating foods with the traditional Seven Species of Israel, and this recipe gets you about 14 percent of the way there. Another seder tradition is drinking white wine and gradually transitioning to red, so you can break out the Moscato and the Manischewitz.
For those of you enduring a wintery climate this week, there’s always the option of arbor-themed chocolate bark. Here are three recipes using milk, dark, and white chocolate. While you’re holed up inside, check out this article about FDR’s squadron of arborists, many of whom were young Jewish men. There’s also David Wolpe’s insightful examination of Tu B’Shevat and the “nature” of Jews, or Joan Nathan’s visit to a cooking class that teaches children about Jewish values using traditional Tu B’Shevat ingredients. You can take a virtual trip to Israel’s Salad Trail, an agricultural tourist destination in the Negev Desert. (Other ideas for meaningful Tu B’Shevat activities can be found here.)
And you can always reread The Lorax.