Today, the 15th Day of Av (on the Hebrew calendar), is the Israeli version of Valentine's Day. This celebration of love actually began the night previous, at sundown, as is custom with most Jewish holidays (days here go from sundown to sundown instead of from midnight to midnight). Fittingly, today, August 15th, also happens to be my first wedding anniversary with my husband. And two years ago, on August 14th, we become an engaged couple. We could not have arranged this coincidence of our first anniversary in a more timely manner.
Though Tu B'Av may be one of the lesser known holidays on the Jewish calendar overall, it has made quite a comeback here in Israel in recent years (especially, I hear, ever since Israel's founding in 1948). The holiday has both historic and modern roots, making it not just a commercial holiday, but also, a Biblical tradition.
Historically, Tu B'Av served as a matchmaking day for unmarried women in the second Temple period, before the fall of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. The first mention of the holiday is seen in the Mishnah where it states that, "There is no better day for the people of Israel than the Fifteenth of Av and Yom Kippur, since on these days, the daughters of Israel/Jerusalem go out dressed in white and dance in the vineyards". Men were to go out into the fields at this time, at the beginning of the harvesting season, where beautiful women danced dressed in white. The men were advised to select their wives from the dancing beauties and to seek out not only physical beauty, but also, women of good heart and mind.
But why was this matchmaking day on this specific date, the 15th of Av? Historians will tell you that this joyous holiday falls on this date in order to counteract the solemnity and heaviness of Tisha B'Av, commemorated just six days previously. For the three weeks leading up to the grievous holiday of Tisha B'Av (which memorializes the destruction of the Temples), is a sad and solemn time when no joy is permitted, no engagements and marriages. As is Jewish tradition, a heavy time must always be followed by a festive and joyous time. Thus, the celebratory holiday of Tu B'Av is welcomed and enjoyed.
Additionally, another reason this holiday falls on the 15th of the month of Av specifically is because of the lunar calendar. It just so happens that between the 14th and 15th of every Hebrew month, a full moon is seen in the sky. That is why so many Jewish holidays will fall on the 14th and 15th of the month (on the Hebrew calendar). Thus, this joyous day likely and intentionally linked the lunar moon with love, fertility and romance. So there you have it: Tu B'Av (15th of Av) is a happy celebration occurring under the first full moon following the weighty grieving period culminating in Tisha B'Av (9th of Av).
In today's world, Tu B'Av is celebrated with cards, flowers, dancing and dining. It is a popular day for engagements and weddings and also for events such as speed dating, set-ups and parties. There's a lot going on here in Israel according to the following local blogger: click here. In the spirit of reminiscing, because today happens to be both my anniversary and Tu B'Av, please enjoy a few pictures from our wedding one year ago today:
Happy 1st Anniversary to my wonderful husband!