Do Israelis celebrate Valentine’s Day?

February 14, 2011 - 1:40 PM by

Do Israelis celebrate the international day of love?

It’s a question I’m asked from time to time, by both family in the U.S. and friends in Israel. Given that New Year’s Eve is widely celebrated (despite our already having a Jewish equivalent – Rosh Hashana) and Anglos often do something on the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving, why should Valentine’s Day be any different? It’s not an overtly religious holiday like Christmas or Easter.

My wife and I have never commemorated the day, but that’s before we had a 17-year-old hopeless romantic daughter. “You’re getting Imma flowers or chocolates, right?” she demanded. “Um, no, I wasn’t planning to,” I responded. “It’s not our holiday in Israel.”

“Do celebrate Tu B’av?” she then asked. Tu B’av, the 15th day of the month of Av, is the Jewish calendar’s official “day of love.” It takes place in the summer and traditionally was a time when, according to the Talmud, “the unmarried girls of Jerusalem would dress in white garments and go out to dance in the vineyards.” These days, it’s a propitious day to get married.

“No, we don’t celebrate Tu B’av either,” I said to my teenager. To which she replied simply “Nu” – essentially “what are you waiting for?” – and gave me a withering look.

And that’s how, despite my Zionist protestations, I walked over to nearby Emek Refaim Street today and bought my wife a bouquet of red and white roses. I attached a note that read “even though I know we don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day, you deserve something special.”

That’s something you can do on any day of the year.


6 Comments on Do Israelis celebrate Valentine’s Day?

  1. Benji Lovitt on Mon, Feb 14th 2011 1:50 PM
  2. Well done, my friend. : )

  3. Nicky on Mon, Feb 14th 2011 2:34 PM
  4. Well, it might not be a traditional holiday in Israel, but today my youngest son brought home a valentine’s day card for me and his daddy that he had made at the kindergarten. All the children were giving them.

    Looks like this outrageously commercial holiday is now becoming a tradition in Israel too. (marketing folk never miss a trick)

    But I did like his home-made card.

  5. Liz@WashingtonPharmGirl on Mon, Feb 14th 2011 4:49 PM
  6. That was very sweet.

  7. Richie Sevrinsky on Mon, Feb 14th 2011 9:11 PM
  8. Are you talking about *Saint* Valentine’s Day as a secular holiday?

  9. My funny valentine | ISRAELITY on Mon, Feb 14th 2011 9:56 PM
  10. [...] contribute to the previous post by Brian about Valentine’s Day by saying that yes, my wife and I celebrated the day tonight – for [...]

  11. Lynn Holstein on Thu, Feb 17th 2011 10:18 AM
  12. We celebrated the holiday. Had 20 people in our apartment who danced the night away: tango, hora, jitterbug. Valentine’s Day provided the perfect excuse for this group aged 45-84 to abandon our usual serious political discussions and engage in sheer fun.

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