Tu B’Av is celebrated every year on the 15th day of Av. On the Hebrew calendar, Av is the eleventh month of the civil year and the fifth month of the ecclesiastical year. This year, it takes place from to 12. In the Babylonian Talmud it is written that “when we enter Av, our joy is diminished.” The month is associated with the darkest events in Jewish history, such as the Nine Days which culminate in the fast day of Tisha B’Av, the ninth of Av. However, Tu B’Av, which remained minor and largely unknown for many centuries, was one of the happiest days of the year in ancient times.
History of Tu B'Av
The first mention of Tu B’Av is in the Mishnah, which was compiled and edited at the end of the second century. Here, Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel is quoted saying: “There were no better days for the people of Israel than the Fifteenth of Av and Yom Kippur since on these days the daughters of Jerusalem go out dressed in white and dance in the vineyards. What were they saying: Young man, consider whom you choose (to be your wife)?”
Talmudic commentators cite other reasons to celebrate this date, such as the day tribes of Israel were allowed to marry women from other tribes after this ban was lifted on Tu B’Av following the conquest and division of Canaan under Joshua. Other events to celebrate include the completion of the cutting of the wood for the Temple, when King Hoshea of the Kingdom of Israel removed the sentries on the road leading to Jerusalem, allowing the ten tribes to once again have access to the Temple, when the Roman occupiers permitted the burial of the victims of the massacre at Bethar during the Bar Kochba rebellion — which, miraculously, had not decomposed — and how the nights, traditionally the ideal time for Torah study, are lengthened, allowing for more study.
For almost 19 centuries, the only commemoration of Tu B’Av was that ‘Tachanun’ is not said during prayers, and that a bride and groom traditionally do not fast if their wedding falls on that day. In recent decades, it has become a romantic Jewish holiday, and has been said to be a “great day for weddings, commitment ceremonies, renewal of vows, or proposing.” It is also “a day for romance, explored through singing, dancing, giving flowers, and studying.”
Tu B'Av timeline
King Hoshea of the Kingdom of Israel removes the sentries on the road leading to Jerusalem on Tu B'Av, allowing the Ten Lost Tribes to return to the Temple.
In the Mishna, Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel says the unmarried girls of Jerusalem dressed in white garments, went out to dance in the vineyards, and asked men who they choose to be their wives.
Roman emperor Antoninus allows for the burial of victims of the massacre at Bethar during the Bar Kochba Rebellion.
Following the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, it becomes a day known for proposals, weddings, and the renewal of vows.
Tu B'Av FAQs
What does Tu B’Av mean in Hebrew?
It means ‘fifteenth of Av.’
Is Valentine's Day a thing in Israel?
It’s only particularly popular in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem with many parties, concerts, and special romantic dinners.
Is Judaism the first religion?
It’s the oldest monotheistic religion in the world, dating back nearly 4,000 years.
Tu B'Av Activities
Ask someone out
It’s a day of love, so it’s a great moment to ask someone out. If you already have somebody special in your life, give them a gift or take them out to dinner. If you wish to go all the way, it’s also time to propose.
Go to a festival or a party
In recent decades Israel has promoted festivals of singing and dancing on the night of Tu B’Av. Outside of Israel, Jewish communities are starting to come up with events too, such as the Tu B’Av White Party in Boston and New York City in the United States, in which you dress in white.
Make peace with someone
As we’ve said, one of the reasons we celebrate Tu B’Av is the reunification of the tribes. For that reason, find someone you’ve had a falling out with and try to reconcile with them.
5 Important Facts About Judaism
It’s based on the Torah
“The Torah,” known as the “Five Books of Moses, the Prophets, and Writings,” form the “Written Torah,” also known as the “Hebrew Bible.”
They only use God’s name in prayer
This is because his name is very sacred to Jewish people, and they refer to Him as ‘Hashem,’ which is Hebrew for ‘The Name’ in everyday speech.
Weekends began as ‘Shabat’
Following the Exodus from Egypt, God told the people to take a day off from work, it is a day dedicated to prayer services, festive meals with family and friends, and resting.
To be Jewish is to learn Torah
The deepest way to connect to God is to invest years into learning Torah and Talmud.
Rabbis are learned Jews
‘Rabbi’ is Hebrew for ‘teacher,’ and they are learned Jews that guide other Jewish people in their Torah study, mitzvah observance, and service of God.
Why We Love Tu B'Av
It’s another day to show our love to that special someone
We can’t think of any reasons not to want another Valentine’s Day. While we should show our love every day, you can make Tu B’Av extra-special for them.
It’s a day to celebrate Jewish culture
Tu B’Av is a unique Jewish tradition. Although it’s not very commonplace nowadays, it’s something to be proud of in an increasingly diverse world.
It’s a glimmer of happiness in a dark month
As we’ve said, the darkest events in Jewish history occurred during the first week and a half of Av. However, Tu B'Av was always one of the happiest days of the year, which makes it relevant.
Tu B'Av dates