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shavuot
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Shavuot, the holiday that commemorates the Israelites receiving the Ten Commandments at
Mount Sinai, is also one of the shaloshah regalim, the three biblical pilgrimage festivals. While Shavuot is not a particularly Israeli holiday, it does have Israeli components.


According to a
midrash, Mount Sinai suddenly bloomed with flowers in anticipation of the giving of the Torah. For this reason, Jewish families traditionally decorate their homes and synagogues with plants, flowers, and leafy branches in honor of holiday. In Israel, florist shops are filled with more fresh flowers than usual, kindergarten children wear
flower garlands on their heads, and go out to the fields to collect wheat. The “green” flavor takes on a deeper shade as Shavuot is also called the holiday of Bikkurim (first fruits). In the period of the First and Second Temple, the first fruits of the seven species for which the Land of Israel was known--wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates—were brought to the Temple. Baskets were loaded on oxen whose horns were gilded and laced with garlands of flowers. They were led in a grand procession to Jerusalem. In modern Israel, the tradition of Bikkurim continues in a secular way. The kibbutzim hold Bikkurim celebrations., and children participate in a procession where agricultural products are carried. Donations are made to the Jewish National Fund for land reclamation at this time, and some kibbutzim offer different environmental activities and green initiatives.

The Torah is likened to milk, as the verse says, "Like honey and milk (the Torah) lies under your tongue." This is one of many reasons it is customary to eat dairy food on Shavuot. In Israel, this tradition is being taken to the extreme: TV commercials hawk dairy products. Supermarkets empty shelves in order to make more space for new dairy products, and special TV programs teach dairy recipes.