Someone asked me an odd question the other day and it put me into research mode, also known as workplace procrastination mode. Amazing what I discovered.
Apparently in the time of the Second Temple (353BC – 70AD, approx) the Jewish people used to celebrate a festival called Tu B’Av (the fifteenth day of the month of Av) in which eligible young women would go out and dance in the vineyards and eligible young men would go out to the vineyards and find themselves a wife.
The women would all wear white dresses that they borrowed from someone else — that way you couldn’t tell who was rich and who was poor. And they would apparently say or sing “Young man, raise your eyes and behold what you choose for yourself. Do not set your eyes on beauty, but on a good family. Grace is deceptive and beauty is vain; but a woman that fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” If young men of the day were anything like they are today, I suspect they may have ignored that advice.
It seems to have been a bit of a free-for-all, considering how normally single men and women weren’t allowed to be alone together. Plenty of opportunities for naughtiness in a secluded corner somewhere, but I suppose that was the idea.
Actually, the more I think about it, the more it sounds like a nightclub: girls borrowing each other’s clothes to go out dancing, weird lyrics and everyone on the prowl for a lifelong partner with whom to share a blessed union for the purposes of raising children under the eyes of God and the community. OK, maybe not so much that last bit.
It’s not celebrated any more, more’s the pity.