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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Israel Series at HebrewPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Israeli holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 4, New Year for Trees.
Tu BiShvat is an agricultural holiday that is also called ראש השנה לאילנות (rosh ha-shana la-ilanot), meaning “the New Year of the Trees". It’s celebrated on the 15th of Shvat according to the Hebrew calendar. In 2015, people celebrated it on February 3rd, and in 2016 it will be celebrated on January 24th.
In this lesson we’ll discuss this day on which people celebrate nature or in Hebrew טבע (teva).
Now, before we get into more detail, I've got a question for you-
On Tu B'Shvat, it is customary to consume foods of the seven species, or in Hebrew שבעת המינים (shiv’at ha-minim). Do you know the seven species?
If you don't already know, keep listening! The answer will be revealed at the end of this lesson!
According to Jewish belief, when God created man, he showed him the trees in Paradise, or גן עדן (gan eden) in Hebrew, and told him: "Everything I created—I created for you." God warned Adam not to spoil the beautiful world He created, because no one can fix the damage caused. Tu Bishvat is a chance to celebrate nature and preserve it, and therefore it’s customary to plant trees on the holiday. Schools take students on field trips to plant trees and teach them to protect nature and appreciate it.
On Tu B'Shvat, people eat a lot of fruit, especially dried fruits or in Hebrew פירות יבשים (perot yeveshim) such as dates, raisins, dried apricots, and dried figs. Why dry? In the past, before refrigerators, drying fruit was the only way Jews living in other countries could preserve fruits native to the Land of Israel.
Four hundred years ago, a new custom began to spread outside of the Land of Israel–Tu Bishvat Seder. Jews would sit together, discuss Torah, and recite blessings in honor of the Land of Israel and everything that grows there. The practice came to Israel and continues to this day. Many families meet for a dinner party that includes lots of fruit, blessings and prayers in honor of nature.
The Almond tree, also called שקדייה (shkediya), blooms relatively early—really close to Tu Bishvat. That's why it became a symbol of the holiday, and appears in children's songs announcing the holiday.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
What are the seven species commonly eaten on Tu B'Shvat?
The "Seven Species" are seven kinds of agricultural crops mentioned in the Torah which exemplify the fertility of the Land of Israel– wheat or חיטה (ħita), barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates. Jewish tradition attaches great importance to each of these foods. On Sukkot, for example, people hang them in the sukkah which we’ll tell you more about in lesson 10.
How was this lesson? Did you learn something interesting?
How does your culture celebrate nature?
Please leave us a comment telling us at HebrewPod101.com, and we'll see you in the next lesson!

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How does your culture celebrate nature?