Tu BiShvat, the nice Jewish holiday marking the new year or birthday of trees, begins tonight.
Years ago, before the time of refrigeration and rapid transport, when Jews in the Diaspora wanted to celebrate the day by eating fruits of the Holy Land, they had to eat dried fruits instead of fresh.
It evolved into a custom even here.
The colorful varieties on this Arab seller's cart parked on Mt. Zion, just outside the Zion Gate, are a treat for the eyes.
These days, however, dates and raisins are about the only ones that are local; all the other
dried fruit is imported from Turkey, Hawaii, and Thailand.
If you'd like to learn more about Tu BiShvat please see my posts from earlier years.
There are nice pictures there from a Tu BiShvat seder (modeled after the Passover seder).
Happy birthday, trees of Israel!