Tu B’Av – Israel’s Valentine’s Day and How it’s Celebrated

Tu B’Av is the Jewish alternative to St. Valentine’s Day. As orthodox Jews don’t commemorate Christian holidays like Valentine’s Day and as it is too good a holiday to miss the Jews have their own day for celebrating love. In Hebrew numbers are marked by letters so “15” is the Hebrew letters?’‘?  or Tu and this holiday is celebrated on the 15th of the Jewish month of Av, hence Tu B’Av. In 2016 Tu b’Av starts at sundown on 18th August and continues through the 19th August until sundown (7th August 2017; 26th July 2018; 15th August 2019).

Religious Significance of Tu B’Av

According to the Mishna the Jewish holiday of love has been celebrated by Jews since the 1st century days of the ancient Temple. Tu B’Av marks the first day of the grape harvest season. Traditionally young girls would borrow white clothes and go out dancing in the vineyards to attract a man. The Holy Jewish text, the Talmud, sites several reasons why Tu b’Av should be celebrated but today the main reason observant Jews celebrate Tu B’Av is to mark the end of The Three Week (Bein ha-Metzarim) morning period commemorating the destruction of the ancient Jewish Temple. Tu Tu B’Av should not be confused with Tisha b’Av (9th of Av) which starts The Three Week morning period and is one of the saddest days in the Jewish calendar when orthodox Jews fast to commemorate the destruction of the ancient Jewish Temple. There are no specific religious rituals or ceremonies associated with Tu B’Av except that the day should be one of joy. It is also a very popular day to get married.

How is Tu B’Av Celebrated in Israel Today?

Today Tu B’Av is mainly a secular celebration when romantics pull out all the stops and propose, wed, go on romantic dates or simply party.

Starting off the Tu B’Av celebrations on the 18th August with a bang is the TuTu-Temple Party presented by Temple of Reflection, a spiritual temple project which is part of the Burn global community. A temple structure is built in the desert each year and stands for three weeks before being burnt. The party is a fundraising event and proceeds will go towards Temple of Reflection expenses. The party kicks off at 9am and will continue until 4am at Bascula, HaRakevet 72, Tel Aviv. Admission 40ILS-60ILS.

Thursdays @Tel Aviv Art Museum hosts events every Thursday but on the 18th of August this year the events will be even more exciting to celebrate Tu B’Av. Entrance is free and there will be live music performances, guided tours, pop-up stores and garments inspired by works of art.

At the Zappa Club Herzlia there will be a special performance by the Sixties Band who will perform the best hits of the 1960s and 70s. The doors open at 8:15pm and the show starts at 10pm; tickets cost 105ILS.

Many restaurants in Israel offer special deals on Tu B’Av and the restaurants are usually decorated with hearts, cupids and lots of red and white balloons. Mel and Michelle at 155 Ben Yehuda Street, Tel Aviv; Frame at 2 Raoul Wallenburg, Tel Aviv and the Brown Hotel pop-up restaurant Salva Vida at 25 Kalisher, Tel Aviv will all be offering special deals for couples on Tu B’Av. Chocolate lovers should have the special Tu B’Av menu at any of the Max Brener restaurants.

If you want to go out and dance you’ll find dance bars and clubs all decked out in red hearts and ready to party. At HaOmen 17, Tel Aviv Moldavian DJ Andrew Rayel will be making the music; At the Cat and Dog you can hear Infected Mushroom playing live and the Toy Bar in Jerusalem will be having a special party event.

 

Cover picture by avinoam michaeli under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license.