Monday, January 30, 2012

TU BI'SHVAT - CHAG HA ILANOT



I planted three trees in my life. One about ten years ago in our current garden, in front of my kitchen window. I love that tree, but it is not the one I want to talk about. I was thinking of the other two, remembering them this morning. I put them deep into soil with my bare hands and many good wishes to grow and to become strong and tall. The first one about thirty years ago, not long after I came to Israel and made it my homeland. I went to Hebrew school for newcomers to learn the language and one day, at the 15th of Shvat, a trip was organized for the class to the Sea of Galilee, the Kinnereth, and all the students, who had immigrated from many places in the world, planted a tree on the slopes at the eastern lake shore, near Kibbutz Ein Gev. I do not remember what kind of tree it was and of course I can never find it and check on it, it has no name tag. I hope it is a big and healthy tree now, thirty years later. My tree, I would like to hug it!

The other one I planted five years later, at an outing with colleagues from my husbands work place, it was a family event and our little son was with us. This one was planted in a nature reserve park on the way to Jerusalem, Ya'ar Ben Shemen. Of course also this tree, which I think was an oak, I can never recognize as mine, but it gives me a good feeling, to know that it is there.

All this I am telling because it is almost Tu BiShvat again, the New Year of the trees, Chag Ha Ilanot, חג האילנות. Tu BiShvat is the 15th of the month Shvat on the Jewish calender, which this year falls on Wednesday next week, the 8th of February. There are two names for tree in Hebrew, Ez and Ilan. The earliest blooming one in the beginning of spring, is the almond tree with its exquisite honey scented flowers. All year around you will not notice that tree, it is very modest, even when bearing its fruit, but now it has its time, exploding so forcefully and marvelously into myriads of delicacies. 


Then the other fruit trees will follow closely, pink peach and apricot blooms, plum from white via pink to almost red, apple blossom, the buds pink, flourishing into cream white or pure white or pinkish flowers, all according to the individual species, sometimes brushed with a tiny little red in the middle, white pear with large petals, and the cherries at the Golan Heights with gleaming snow white flowers - all of them with their distinct sweet aroma.

Tu BiShvat is celebrated honoring the trees. All the kindergarten and small school children will get little pots with rooted twigs, to plant them where ever they want to. Older children and youth groups are taken to different locations to plant trees. And a lot of fruit and nuts are eaten. The markets and shops sell an abundance of dried fruit: dates, figs, apricot, plum, apple and pear slices, raisins. And many different nuts, pecans, walnuts, almonds. All those are growing here in the land of Israel.

This is information in a nutshell about the feast of Tu BiShvat, there is plenty more of it on the Internet, if you would like a deeper knowledge.

Here is the recipe of my favorite Tu BiShvat cake, which I bake every year at this time:

Preheat the oven to 180 degree Celsius

3 eggs, 125 gr sugar, 125 gr self rising flour, 3 tsp cinnamon, 300 gr dried fruit, (dates, apricots, plums, raisins, figs) coarsely cut up, 200 gr different nuts, halved, (almonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts). 

Sprinkle the fruit with a bit of flour, so it will not stick together. Beat the eggs with the sugar until foamy, add the flour and cinnamon, then the fruit and nuts. Bake in an English cake pan with a sheet of baking paper on top for an hour, take down the paper, reduce the temperature a bit, and bake for another half hour. Slice very thinly.

So easy to do - a piece of cake! :-)

Tu BiShvat sameach!

15 comments:

Bob Bushell said...

That must have been uplifting. the same old tree, it's a dream.

glazedOver Pottery said...

I fell in love with my husband the day we planted a tree together in Israel. We planted another at our wedding and it is still there, growing strong on the property that my parents used to own. I know how you feel, I would like to visit our tree and hug it too. As it is, I drive by often and "visit" it.

Tu B'Shevat sameach!

Terri said...

I love that you have a national tree day! We have an Arbor day which was started to honor Luther Burbank, a seedsman and experimenter. He invented the Idaho Potato. Our holiday isn't that big here, and most don't know it honors Mr. Burbank.
I grow some trees for giving at Halloween along with the candy. The kids some early to get a plant from us. It's my favorite thing... a good hobby, too.

sacramento said...

I am so glad to know you liked Chocolat. I have seen Amelie, but it might be time for a second watch.
Is that you by the trees???
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXx

Annuk said...

What wonderful photos, Yael!!!!!!!
And I SO loved the stories of the trees you planted... they are so meaningful!
By the way... love your boots! :)

dina vanessa mercado said...

great pics!!! lovely flowers!!!! love love love it!!! kissess!!!

Dawn of LaTouchables said...

The tree--a symbol of stability, longevity, life and it's cycles...


Who is that beautiful flower walking among the blossums???? :-)

Lovely post, Yael!

Hilde said...

I love this post, Yael :)
It's wonderful that you have a national tree day! And I loved the stories about your trees :)
The photos are lovely, such beautiful flowers!

wanda miller said...

AHHHH inhale, my senses have been filled and awed here, yael! thank you! BEAUTIFUL story, YOUR TREES, OUR TREES:) we have about 5 almond trees on our property that were already here when we arrived, i just love them annnd, they are the first to bloom before spring even hit! xo

Julia said...

Beautiful photos. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing the trees that you planted all big and tall.

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Misfits Vintage said...

A national day for trees - I LOVE it! I adore the spring blossoms - they are so beautiful and welcome after a long cold winter. Thanks for sharing this lovely post with us (and thanks for finding me). Sarah xxx

Jutta said...

Liebe Yael,

ist das bei Euch zu Hause. Das sieht wunderschön aus und schon so richtig nach Frühling.
Bei uns ist es gerade richtig kalt geworden. In der Nacht waren wieder - 12 Grad, also nichts mit Frühling.

Liebe Grüße
Jutta

Yael said...

Jutta, die ersten beiden Mandelbaumfotos sind hier bei uns im Ort aufgenommen, gleich die Strasse runter. Die naechsten zwei Fotos sind wilde Mandelbaeume auf den Golan Hoehen und die restlichen beiden sind Obstbaeume ebenfalls im Golan. :-)

Dawn of LaTouchables said...

Reread that recipe...it is something I will try!

Anastasia Egórova said...

With your post you make me wish to plant at least one tree! :)
Almond trees are already blooming here as well, which looks like a wonder in the middle of winter! Isn't it?
You receipe sounds delicious! :)