With the passing of the Gregorian new year comes Tu’bshvat, known to many as the “tree holiday,” marking a time in the Jewish calendar when trees are celebrated. Ecological gatherings, harvest feasts and tree planting ceremonies run rampant through the agricultural and educational systems founded in Israel.
While some see Tu’bshvat as a trivial holiday, Jewish tradition deeply honors the trees, specifically in the land of Israel. While the traditions manifest in loaded trays of dried fruit, the holiday focuses particularly on the birthday of the trees, and not the seeds, roots or fruits of them. Like every human, every tree begins as a seed, and needs both water and earth to grow and survive. Fruit is the result of the growth process, but the tree is the solid foundation, the vessel with its roots planted into the ground, seasonally surviving the threats of its environment. As an intrinsic part of the process, the tree does its work internally first, from the ground up, so that it can blossom to its fullest potential. Perhaps humans have much to learn from the trees.
It can seem strange to celebrate the trees in a time of year when most don’t appear fruitful. However, the intention is dedicated to the internal process that every tree needs in order to be able to truly grow. It’s a chance for individuals to find our own reflections in the tree’s trustworthy growth process. As we all begin to work on ourselves internally, consistently rooting ourselves down, connecting to our central core of being, allowing a stream of nourishment, the process is solid in its outcome. Though some seasons may prove more fruitful than others, the tree remains until its next cycle, its roots deeply connected to its network underground, unseen, yet always flourishing and growing better as they grow together.
They might have different fruits, and blossom at different times, but by connecting to our worldwide web of roots, one day, when the time is right and the season has cycled, our seeds are finally able to blossom into the fruit they were meant to be.