What do you get when you mix sangria and a mimosa? An Israeli-inspired “mimosangria,” which will certainly make you feel like dancing in the vineyards for Tu b’Av.
According to the Mishnah, in the days of the Temple, Tu b’Av marked the beginning of the grape harvest, with the maidens of Jerusalem dressing in white and going out and dancing in the vineyards.
Today, it has become an Israeli Valentine’s Day of sorts. In 1925, there was an effort to revive the holiday with an annual party at the kibbutzim in the Jezreel Valley, as an attempt to have young Zionists embrace the holiday and feel a connection to the earth, the grape harvest and the spirit of Canaanite rituals. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, some Tu b’Av parties were held in Tel Aviv, but the concept didn’t really stick until more recently.
The holiday did get a few mentions in early Hebrew writing. For example, in his novel Ayit Tzavua (Hypocrite Eagle) Abraham Mapu wrote about celebrating Tu b’Av on the coast of the Sea of Galilee.
It was really in the 1990s, however, that Tu b’Av jumped on marketing train, with Valentine’s Day-style hearts, candies and other paraphernalia and parties. In Israel today, it’s considered a good day for weddings.
Although a minor Jewish holiday, what I love about Tu b’Av is its agricultural connection. Even today, it’s possible to mark the holiday in a way that celebrates the fruit of Israel (and skips the heart balloons and roses entirely). The easiest way is with Israeli wine: these days there are wineries all over Israel, and many of them produce great wines.
Or, even better, what could be a more fitting drink for the 15th of Av that celebrates the grape harvest of Israel than a festive sparkling cocktail? Citrus, mint and pomegranate give it an Israeli flavor, or for added Israeli flair, use equal parts pomegranate juice and freshly squeezed tangerine or orange juice (or both), which are available at most organic and health food markets. Although it’s a drink, I like to make it a bit more substantial by adding a generous serving of fresh fruit to it, transforming it into a hearty sangria or even a boozy fruit salad of sorts.
Top photo: Young women on a kibbutz dance to celebrate Tu b’Av (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons).