This week on China Groceries… We present another interesting find in the Chinese grocery stores: Fruit Gift Boxes.
In China, fruit is the pefect go-to choice whenever you have no idea what to get someone! Over here, fruit baskets are always sure to please whoever you’re buying for. Almost any large supermarket in China will have fruit baskets on sale, and even more amazingly, they even have these small boxes specifically designated just for gifting one piece of fruit. I remember the fruit time that a student brought me an apple in a decorative box such as this. Of course, initially this concept was a little odd to me. However, giving fruit, even one apple, is a perfectly normal, and acceptable, gift in China. As a teacher I really did enjoy receiving apples from my students – sort of like a scene from a movie, they would leave them on my desk, or hand them to me as they entered the classroom.
Yes, in the weeks gone by we have shown you some really weird things that we have spotted in the grocery stores of China, but we rather enjoy this one. Giving fruit is such a practical gift, and these small gift boxes make picking up a gift for someone a much less daunting task. In the image below you can see a wide selection of heart-shaped boxes (bottom left).
If you live in China and you want to give fruit to a loved one, friend, or co-worker, here is a brief guideline on what each fruit symbolizes:
The orange is a prayer or wish for good fortune. That is why it is probably the most common food offering. The mandarin and other fruits in the citrus family have other interesting roles. For instance, after her wedding, the bride is given two of these fruits by her new in-laws. She is to peel them the evening of the nuptials and share them with her husband. These two fruits are symbolizing a family wish that the bride and groom share a happy and full life together.
Melons and the pomelo are symbolic of family unity, they hold out the wish that the family will, like the moon, stay round, large, whole, and also united. Families love to share them and many other fruits. That may be why they buy large fruits and share them together.
Pomegranates symbolizes fertility; this fruit is full of seeds. A picture is often a wedding gift, a special picture with one of these fruits shown half-opened. The meaning is a hundred seeds, or more completely, a hundred sons. The word for seed is zi, it is also the word for sons.
Apples symbolize peace. The word for apple in Chinese is ping, the homonym of ping is peace. Apricots stand for a beautiful woman. Peaches indicate longevity, but pears symbolize something quite opposite. For example, lovers should never share a pear because the word for pear is identical to the word for separation. Many fruits are shared, but never is the pear divided with a husband, a lover, or a friend. And, whatever you do, don’t give pears as a gift, especially on the 15th day of the 7th month; if you did, you would be wishing a separation from someone.