Symbolism Of Pears In Chinese Culture

The pear is a pretty common fruit that follows closely behind apples and oranges in the fruit section of supermarkets.

And in Chinese culture it can either symbolize positive things or negative ones depending on how the beholder’s perception is shaped.

As the pear tree is known to grow to hundreds of years old, it is often viewed as a symbol of longevity just like pine trees. But because the latter is a favorite tree of reference amongst scholars and poets, we seldom see the pear tree cited in poetry.

The bark and flowers of the pear tree is sometimes used in traditional Chinese medicine as a treatment therapy for fever.

The pear fruit is called li (梨) in mandarin. It sounds eerily similar to the word (離) which translate to leave.

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Because of this phonetic similarity, it is traditionally considered taboo in culture for couple to cut a pear in half and share with each other. It basically symbolizes divorce and breaking off.

By the same token, it is frowned upon to share pears with friends and relatives with relationships you treasure.

This is the most common hidden symbolism with regards to pears.

However, it can also be seen as a play on the words 力 or 利 which carries the meanings of strength and benefits respectively.

Because of this, paintings of pears can sometimes be found in offices. The most common being yellow pears as it represents gold profits in a play of words. And since the office is generally not a place for romance, business owners are receptive to having pears in the office even if it carries a bad omen in terms of romance.

Culturally, it is also taboo to buy, consume, or share pears on the 15th day of the 7th month during the Hungry Ghost festival. This is believed to bring bad luck that can result in total loss.

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