For those of you who are Vikings, but not Jewish, we thought we should tell you a little about Tu BiShvat.
Then it occurred to us that some of you may be Jewish, but not Vikings, so we realized that we should tell you about the Viking-era reverence for silviculture.
Then it dawned on us that some of you might be neither Vikings nor Jewish, a condition which admittedly must represent the vast majority of people.
So, Tu BiShvat in a nutshell…
Tu BiShvat simply means “the holiday on the 15th of the month of Shevat,” which is not super helpful. It is one of the four new years of the Jewish calendar, and this one represents the beginning of the agricultural cycle. As you look out the window of your log cabin here in Vermont at the beginning of February, please remember that this holiday was established in the Levant where it is, in fact, a perfectly reasonable time to plant things.
Dried fruit is the customary entree at a Tu BiShvat Seder, along with nuts and other vegetables. Since we’re celebrating the coming spring along with the harvest of last year, we have a special surprise for you that we’ll be announcing later in the week.
As for Vikings and trees…
The Vikings weren’t always ecologically minded – in point of fact they cleared all of the trees on Iceland when they arrived. They were often, however, much more progressive with their forestry management.
One of the few verified practices of Germanic pagans was the designating of sacred groves as places of worship. In many areas (though obviously not Iceland), Viking-era Scandinavians cultivated large areas of woodlands for the production of timber for their ships as well as orchards for fruit.
Then there were Ents… the Shepherds of the Forest!
Actually, “ent” is just the Old English word for “giant,” but thanks to J.R.R. Tolkien, the world sees Ents as the embodiment of the forest, the voice of the trees.
So, this brings us to Tu BiShvat: An Ent Holiday! What should you expect?
Lots of foods from the earth, Tolkien music, and probably the highest concentration of Jewish Vikings ever assembled!
See you on Friday!