When we talks about oranges in Chinese culture, it must be made known that there are two types of oranges that are most common.
The first is the regular orange which we are probably very familiar to today. And the second is the mandarin orange.
They are both of roughly the same size, have orange skin which reveals orange colored flesh when peeled. And both taste like… orange…
Yet for a Chinese person, telling the two apart is as easy telling apart an iPhone from a Samsung.
While traditionally and culturally, the mandarin orange is the official fruit that is used in celebrations and festivities, nobody would mind if a visiting guest brought an orange instead of a mandarin orange to an event.
It’s the thought that counts.
A big reason why the mandarin orange is considered an auspicious fruit that is appropriate for almost all types of positive events is that it is pronounced as kum which is a homonyn of the word gold in Cantonese, a Chinese dialect.
This is why during Chinese New Year, people send them as gifts to each other to wish everyone good fortune for the new year ahead.
Households would then display the fruits during the first 14 days CNY to invite prosperity into the house.
Orange gem trees are also sometimes put on display in business premises and homes during CNY.
In some parts of China, mandarin oranges are also presented to newly weds as a blessing for a long and happy life together.
There’s also a famous story of filial piety with a boy named Lu Ji who received two oranges and instead of eating himself to feed his hunger, decided to bring them home for his mother.
Sometimes, lime trees are used as substitutes for mandarin oranges as they look like miniature versions of the original.
When two oranges are depicted with two fishes in a basket, it represents a wish for happiness every year.
As paintings and artwork, the mandarin orange is probably the most popular fruit to be drawn by itself into art without the presence of other fruits.
They are best displayed in the living room.