Tu Bishvat which means “Fifteenth of Shevat” is the “New Year for the Trees” or Rosh Hashana La-ilanot.
Tradition says that on this day sap begins to run and it is time to plant trees in Israel!
The Talmud teaches of an ancient custom that on Tu Bishvat after a babies birth parents would plant a tree for him/her. For each baby boy a cedar was planted, while for a girl baby a cypress was planted. Naturally, as the children grew so did the trees. When young adults became engaged their trees were cut down and planks were prepared. At the wedding, the most personal Jewish Holiday, those planks were used to construct the chupah (wedding canopy), and afterwards incorporated into the couples first home.
Symbolically, just like two trees were joined in both the symbolic and real home, the couple are joined in marriage creating a true home.
For thousands of years of exile, Tu Bishvat was celebrated wherever Jews found themselves. Even without Israel, our common home, we remembered Zion when we celebrated Tu Bishvat. In Many lands of exile trees could not be planted on Tu Bishvat either because it was not spring or the host nation prevented Jews from owning land. Instead, Jews gathered to eat the “fruit of the trees” and remembered our homeland. They went to great lengths to acquire fruits from Israel: wine, olive oil, almonds, dates, figs, raisins, and carob. In this way far off diaspora communities performed the mitzvot of Tu B’Shvat, recite the blessings and kept alive the promise of return to the land and of the final redemption. May the Lord bless us and bring it speedily in our days.