Shavuot — celebrated this year from sundown on May 28th to sundown on May 30th — marks the receiving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai by the Israelites.
But Shavuot is also a celebration of the wheat harvest at the end of the seven-week harvest of grains. Like many agricultural holidays, Shavuot offers the opportunity to connect with and appreciate our natural environment.
Shavuot may well be the greenest holiday on the Jewish calendar.
I’m a big fan of farmers markets, and Shavuot is a great time to head to your local market. But this is also a good time to visit area farms and dairies, to watch the harvest come in or even participate in some u-pick activities yourself.
It’s customary to decorate homes and temples with flowers and green plants for Shavuot, and with so much in full bloom at this time of year, it’s difficult not to be inspired by roses, rhododendrons, dogwoods and other plants and trees growing wild and in carefully planned gardens.
I use this as a reminder to pay extra attention to my three houseplants and to spend additional time tending my small garden, but it also makes me think of the many spring and early summer festivals across many religious traditions that celebrate the renewed promise of the Earth. The darkness of winter is long behind us now, and we celebrate the planet’s burgeoning life with dancing, maypoles, songs, bike rides, mountain hikes and all manner of festivities as we look forward to a good harvest.
For a round-up of activities and ideas for a green Shavuot, visit Shavuot Eco Activities (For When the Cheese Is All Eaten Up).