Thursday, January 17, 2013

Tangerines and Oranges: The Symbols of the Chinese New Year

Although many people in China, especially in the younger generation, have adopted many aspects of a "western" lifestyle, the rich Chinese culture and tradition is still alive and well- especially regarding the celebration of the New Year

One of the traditions that has continued to be honored each New Year is the association of various colors, fruits, and flowers with a special symbolic meaning. Examples of symbols whose meaning becomes incredibly important during the celebration of the Chinese New Year includes the fruits tangerines and oranges

These symbols importance becomes so great that Chinese people put them throughout their houses to welcome the coming of one of their most important festivals. Upon learning this I wondered to myself- why tangerines and oranges? 

What initially drew the Chinese people to the seemingly random fruit was their bright orange color, thought to symbolize gold which brings the people good luck and wealth. In fact, in Chinese tangerine sounds just like the word "luck" and orange is similar to the word "wealth". 

The symbolic importance of tangerines and oranges isn't random at all, but actually an association of happiness and prosperity with the gifts of tangerines and oranges. For this reason, tangerines and oranges can be seen displayed throughout houses and stores. They are also served to guests who are visiting during this exciting time of year. 

Another way the Chinese like to invite happiness and prosperity into their homes this time of year is by displaying miniature orange trees in the form of a potted plant. Although they look impossibly delicious, the trees are infused with high dosages of fertilizer so it's not recommended that you eat them- not matter how tempting they look!

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