Is Tu B’Shevat (Arbor Day) a Public Holiday?
Tu B’Shevat (Arbor Day) is not a public holiday. Businesses have normal opening hours.
What Do People Do?
Many Jewish communities in Canada observe Tu B’Shevat by eating fruit on this day. The Torah praises seven “fruits”, in particular grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates. Many Jewish people also try to eat a new fruit, which can be any seasonal fruit. Some Jewish communities plant trees on Tu B’Shevat. Some people organize ecological activities and educational events, which provide a chance to express their dedication to protecting the Earth.
Tu B’Shevat is not a public holiday in Canada. However, some Jewish organizations may be closed or offer a limited service to allow for festivities to occur on this day.
Tu B’Shevat is first referred to in the late Second Temple period (515 BCE to 20 CE) when it was the cut-off date for levying the tithe on the produce of fruit trees. When Jewish colonists returned to Palestine during the 1930s, they reclaimed the barren land by planting trees where they could. It became customary to plant a tree for every newborn child – a cedar for a boy and a cypress or pine for a girl.
Jewish Holidays Last Longer Outside of Israel
In the Jewish diaspora—Jewish communities outside of Israel—an extra day is usually added to religious observances, with the exception of Yom Kippur, which lasts only one day worldwide, and Rosh Hashana, which is celebrated over two days in both Israel and the diaspora.
This custom has its roots in ancient times when the beginning of the months in the Jewish calendar still relied on the sighting of the crescent Moon following a New Moon.
The beginning of a new month was determined by the Sanhedrin, the supreme court of ancient Israel in Jerusalem. Once the date was published, messengers were dispatched to spread the news among Jews living abroad. Since this process took some time, it was decreed that Jews outside of ancient Israel were to observe every holiday for 2 days to make sure that the rules and customs applicable to each holiday were observed on the proper date. This rule is still observed today.