Tu B'Av, the 15th of Av, was a half holiday and the time that those who had not yet found their lifemate could choose one in ancient Israel.. The Sage Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel said, "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)?"( Taanit, Chapter 4).
In recent years, Israeli media and advertising attempted to turn the day into a day of festivals and make it similar to Valentine's Day in the USA.
Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics publishes information about marriage rates in honor of the half holiday
50,038 couples were married in Israel in religious courts, which are the courts authorized to perform marriages in Israel, during 2008. 37,446 out of them were Jewish, 10,742 Muslim, 806 Christians, and 963 Druze couples, according to the report.
The marriage rate per thousand persons aged 15 and over was 19.6 per thousand among grooms and 17.8 per thousand among brides.
The average age of marriage among first-time grooms was 27.5 (29.5 among the Jewish grooms). The average age of marriage among first-time brides was 24.7 (25.7 among the Jewish brides). In comparison, in 1970 this age among grooms was 25.0 (both among the general population as well as among the Jewish population). In the same year the average age of first-time brides was 21.7 (21.8 among Jewish brides).
86 per cent of Jewish marriages which took place were marriages in which both spouses were married for the first time, 5.3 per cent of Jewish marriages were between a male divorcee and a single female, 3.1 percent were between a female divorcee and a single male.
The age difference in the average age between Jewish brides and grooms in a first marriage was 2.2 years, compared to an age difference of approximately 5 years in other religions.
The percentage of bachelors in Israel
As a result of the rise in marriage age in the Jewish population, the percentage of single male Jews between the ages of 25 and 29 went up from 28 per cent at the end of 1970 to 63 per cent at the end of 2008. The percentage of single female Jews between the ages of 25 and 29 rose in the same time period from 13 per cent to 42 per cent.
Among the larger cities, the Jewish population in Tel Aviv-Yafo, Haifa, and Rishon LeZion is characterized with a high percentage of singles between the ages of 25 and 29 in relation to the entire Jewish population. In contrast, the cities of Ashdod and Jerusalem are characterized with a low percentage of singles.
The age of marriage in Israel is lower than in most western countries. For example, the average age of first-time marriage among men in Denmark was 34.8. In comparison, in Israel the average age of marriage is 27.5.
The age of first-time marriage among women in Denmark is 32.8. In comparison, in Israel the average age of marriage is 24.7.
Among the entire Jewish population, 56 per cent believe that the desired age for a man to start a family is between 25 and 29 and about a quarter (24 per cent) believe that the desired age for a man is 30 and up. 72 per cent of Haredim believe that it is preferable that a man start a family before the age of 19. Among the Arabs, 63 per cent believe that the desired age to start a family is between 25 and 29 and 19 per cent believe that the desired age is between 20 and 24.
The desired number of children in the family
Raising a family remains a constant value in Israeli society. Among the Jewish population aged 20 and older, 12 per cent believe that 2 children is the desired number for a family, 40 per cent believe that 3 children is the desired number, 25 per cent prefer 4 children, and 14 per cent prefer 5 children or more. Less than 1 per cent prefer only one child.Most individuals who define themselves as secular (55 per cent) prefer 3 children, about one fifth among the secular (19 per cent) prefer 4 children, and a similar percentage (19 per cent) prefer 2 children per family. In contrast, about one half of Haredim (48 per cent) preferred not to mention a specific number of children, while 34 per cent of Haredim prefer 7 children or more.