Valentine’s Day isn’t the only holiday that celebrates love. Tu B’Av, the 15th Day of Av, is a mysterious but ancient minor Jewish holiday that has been gaining more popularity in recent decades celebrated with giving red roses, dancing, and other lovey dovey things. Tu b’Av occurs on a full moon, as the Hebrew calendar is lunar. Linking the full moon with love, fertility, and romance is common in ancient cultures.
The origin of Tu B’Av is unknown. It comes one week after Tisha B’Av, a fasting day that commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples. It has also became a day of general mourning for other major disasters that have befallen the Jewish people.
It was first mentioned in the Mishnah (Judaism’s primary book of legal theory) where it says “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 they were saying: Young man, consider who you choose to be your wife.” (Taanit 4:8) . The holiday marked the beginning of the grape harvest in the Second Temple.