Saturday, December 11, 2021

The Tradition of Giving Oranges for Christmas


Oranges for Christmas

Ties, slippers, bicycles, video game consoles, chocolates, and (inexplicably) fruitcake are all staples of holiday gift-giving. But no gift suits the Christmas tradition better than oranges.  Long touted in Asia as "the fruit of life," receiving an orange in ancient times was considered a tremendous honor, due to the belief that oranges held magical powers that could ward off evil and bring good fortune.  Today, receiving an orange in one's stocking or a gift basket of citrus fruits and other goodies is a timeless gift that has its roots in Christmases of times long ago.

A Little History

The tradition of giving oranges for Christmas can be traced back to the early 19th century, when people started hanging stockings on their mantels. According to one of the classic legends of Saint Nicholas, there were three sisters who couldn't afford their dowries for marriage.  Jolly ol' St. Nick threw three pieces of gold down their chimney, which landed, one each, in three stockings that were hanging on the fireplace mantel to dry. When the "Night Before Christmas" was published and widely received in 1823, the tradition of hanging stockings for Christmas was born, and a sweet orange placed in the stocking's toe was used to represent good fortune for the recipient and the generosity of a magnanimous Saint Nicholas, also known as Santa Claus.

A Little More History

During the Great Depression, oranges and other citrus fruits were a delicacy and very hard to come by.  Giving citrus as a gift was considered generous, and to receive even a single orange or tangerine was a luxurious treat.  Even well into the twentieth century, oranges were not easily accessible in cold midwestern and northern states. Oranges made for an exotic and refreshing gift during the holidays, one that northerners would cherish since citrus wasn't readily available. With the advent of mass-produced confections and the newer tradition of overconsumption, parents appreciated the natural, healthy sweetness of oranges as a fresh alternative to all of the heavy holiday foods and desserts.

What About Today?

These days, folks almost anywhere can go to a big box store and buy a bag of citrus. However, the quality of produce available en masse is questionable at best. Both taste and nutrition are directly impacted by the quality of the fruit and the care in which it is grown, harvested, and transported.  So, while more people these days may have regular access to a mediocre orange or grapefruit, few people have ever tasted and experienced both the pleasure and nutrition of a high-quality fruit that is truly gift-worthy. In the spirit of sustaining a longstanding and healthy Christmas tradition, it makes sense to make sure that the citrus you gift is from a reliable source that has many wonderful gift-giving options.

From all of us here at Florida Fruit Shippers, we wish you and yours a happy, healthy, Merry Christmas!


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