Made you look! But seriously, what’s up with the flower garlands for Shavuot? How did a holiday commemorating Matan Torah, Jews receiving the commandments at Mount Sinai, come to look like a music festival in the California desert?
And why can't I ever remember that I need flowers around Shavuot, and always end up torturing my child, as above, with homemade workarounds using the likes of cupcake liners?
There are a few theories. One is a legend that teaches that the Israelites found the barren desert bloomed with flowers as the earth rejoiced at the giving of the Torah.
Another, more modern, explanation is that Shavuot is a harvest holiday commemorating bikkurim. Bukkurim translates to visits, and refers to the biblical custom of visiting the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and bringing offerings of First Fruits, specifically the Seven Species of the Land of Israel: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates. Jews living in the diaspora were unable to celebrate the agricultural aspect of the holiday, and pivoted the focus to the land and its fruits when they reestablished settlements in Israel. Secular Kibbutzim and Moshavim celebrated with ceremonies comprised of parades of wagons bearing the fruits of the fields, including children dressed in spring attire and floral garlands.
Whatever the reason, bringing the outdoors in is now a major component of the celebration of Shavuot, with decorations of plants and flowers in our homes and on ourselves. But don't prep your famous brisket, because Shavuot is the only Jewish holiday celebrated with a dairy menu, symbolizing the land of milk and honey. Some believe that when the Israelites received the Torah, they were immediately obligated to follow its (kashrut) laws. Since there was no time to prepare kosher meat before their celebratory feast, the Israelites ate a dairy meal.
Wishing all a happy, hippy, and lactose tolerant, Shavuot!