Wednesday, March 6, 2019

When the almond trees flower

The almond blossoms have a special place in the hearts of Israelis

We are right at the entrance of spring now in Israel. Luckily we had a lot of rain this winter and everywhere is clean and green.

We are already enjoying the spring flowers but one cannot talk (okay write..☺) about spring flowers without mentioning almond blossoms.



These trees always bloom the first in Israel and is a wonderful reminder that the winter is about to come to an end. One has to really pay attention to see the almond blossoms though. They blossom only for a short time. One blink and they are gone until next year.

The almond blossoms always bloom the first

Even as I am writing this post, I know that the glorious white/pink flowers have already disappeared and the almond trees are already covered in fresh new leaves. Soon the small baby almonds will grow into the nuts that I love to snack on.

The almond tree, just like other indigenous plants and trees of Israel, are often mentioned in the Jewish Bible (the Christian Old Testament).

When Yaakob sent his sons with choice products to Egypt, almonds were on the list.

Then their father Israel said to them, "If it must be so, then do this: take some of the best products of the land in your bags, and carry down to the man as a present, a little balm and a little honey, aromatic gum and myrrh, pistachio nuts and almonds. Genesis 43:11

Apparently even today Israel’s almond nuts are of the largest and tastiest to be found.

When God wanted Jeremiah to wake up and get going already, he asked him to look at the almond trees.

“The word of the Lord came to me: What do you see, Jeremiah? I replied: I see a branch of an almond tree. The Lord said to me: You have seen right, for I am watchful to bring My word to pass.” (Jeremiah 1:11)

Since the almond trees are the first to flower in Israel, they are sometimes a symbol of getting up early and doing your thing.

Be like the almond tree and start early!

This early flowering of the almond tree is also the reason why it is connected with Tu b'shvat, the Jewish holiday that celebrates trees yearly birthday's. It takes place around late winter, or very early spring. Though each year are a bit different. This year, with our long and rainy winter, it felt as though Tu b'shvat came too early.

And yes here in Israel we have a special date to mark the passing of the year for trees. Though nobody bakes a birthday cake for the trees or anything...:(  You can read here a bit more about Tu b'shevat.

The old Jewish rabbis decided on Tu b'shvat as the date for marking trees birthdays because that is when the 'sap rises back into the trees' after the winter.

The almond tree is definitely a visual representation of the sap rising back into the trees because if flowers before all the other trees. The flowers also appears before the tree's new leaves. Seeing these amazing white and light pink trees dotting the fields during early spring makes everyone snap-happy and if you have any Israeli friends on Facebook or Instagram, you must have seen photos of the Israeli "sakura".

Another mention in the Bible of the almond trees are in Ecclesiastes.

Furthermore, men are afraid of a high place and of terrors on the road; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags himself along, and the caperberry is ineffective. For man goes to his eternal home while mourners go about in the street.
Ecclesiastes 12:5

It is a bit contradicting that this beautiful EARLY flowering tree also have this connection with death. Apparently is it because old age appears so much earlier than you expect.

I have also read that there is this connection between the almond blossoms and old age because the delicate white flowers covering the trees look like the white hair that covers an old person’s head.

The "white" heads of the almond trees stick out during early spring in Israel

I like it that the almond trees represent beginnings and endings. You get up early and do your thing, making the best product that you can. And when the time comes, you go out in a show of beauty.

Goodbye almond tree blossoms. I will look again for you next year.





If you'd like to receive my occasional "Letter from Israel" in your email box, how about signing up at the box in the top-right corner. I am a fierce hater of spam myself and I promise that I only send out these emails VERY occasionally - though I really should be a bit less lazy.

No comments:

Post a Comment