One festive way to celebrate the easy-going, Earth-loving holiday of Tu Bishvat is with a Tu Bishvat seder. The word seder in Hebrew means order, and 16th Century Jewish mystics in Israel used the idea of a Passover seder with its specific steps and symbolic foods to create a seder focused on nature. This seder isn’t as lengthy as a Passover seder, and doesn’t involve a story.
Tu Bishvat seders often include readings about trees and discussions on how to create a spiritual connection with the environment. Most Tu Bishvat seders are organized around four cups of wine (or grape juice) and four types of fruits. The cups of wine/juice are a combination of red and white to symbolize the changing seasons. The types of fruits are used as symbols to correspond to the four worlds in Kabbalah, four types of people and to the four seasons.
A Tu Bishvat seder is a perfect activity for interfaith families because the holiday itself has no theology or ritual requirements, and connects to nature is a universal value. As we become more aware of the climate crisis, it’s important to spend time thinking about our world and the way in which climate change impacts us in our home regions.
There are dozens of examples of Tu Bishvat seders online, and you can pick and choose the elements you like from various examples or create your own. You can even make the seder more unique to your family’s background by including nature poems and tree-themed prayers from other cultures and religions. Take a look at a few of the examples below, then get creative with your favorite readings—and your favorite fruits!