In everything I’ve read, Tu B’Shevat is listed as a “minor” holiday. It literally means “15th of Shevat” (Shevat being the name of one of the Jewish months) although it is also known as the “New Year of the Trees” or “Jewish Arbor Day.”
Historically, it was a marker so people would know when the tithing year started and it was chosen because it is around the time when the trees in Israel are beginning to bud. Nowadays, it has moved into more of an environmental celebration like Arbor Day or Earth Day. Sometimes money is collected for the Jewish National Fund so that trees can be planted in Israel. Or, things are done on a more local level to plant trees and take care of the earth.
One of the ways to celebrate is by eating the fruit from the three different categories of trees. The first is fruit with a hard outer shell. This includes almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts, coconuts, bananas, papaya, cashews, pecans, the pistachio nut, and the pomegranate.
Next comes the fruit with an inner pit. Apricot, avocado, cherry, date, olive, peach, cranberry, persimmons, and plums all count for this one. Finally, you have the fruit that you can eat in its entirety like apple, carob, fig, grape, kiwi, pear, orange, and grapefruit.
There may also be prayers, songs and other blessings included in the celebration. Other people just try to eat as many different kinds of fruit as they can! However it comes, it is a chance to think about the Earth and all of the things it gives us. Sure, I may seem like a “tree-hugger” but that doesn’t seem like so minor a holiday to me!