With a full moon in the night sky, it’s a perfect time to celebrate Tu B’Av, the Jewish Day of Love. The holiday starts this evening at sundown and continues through tomorrow.
Historically, Tu B’Av marked the beginning of the grape harvest and Yom Kippur marked the end.
During the Second Temple period, it served as a day of matchmaking for unmarried women. The first mention of the holiday is in the Mishnah, where Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel is quoted:
There were no better (i.e., happier) days for the people of Israel than the Fifteenth of Av and Yom Kippur, since on these days the daughters of Israel/Jerusalem go out dressed in white and dance in the vineyards. What were they saying: Young man, consider whom you choose (to be your wife)? (Ta’anit, Chapter 4)
Tu B’Av, like several Jewish holidays (Passover, Sukkot, Tu Bishvat) begins on the night between the 14th and 15th day of the Hebrew month, since this is the night of a full moon in our lunar calendar. Linking the night of a full moon with romance, love and fertility is not uncommon in ancient cultures.
It has no formal legal status as a holiday and the Israeli rabbinate have not called for the introduction of any ancient religious practices. Today in Israel, it is mostly celebrated the way Americans celebrate Valentine’s Day.