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Mandarin Oranges’ True Meaning For Chinese New Year

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Chinese New Year is a time for family, cuisine, and a whole lotta fun.

But do we really know the underlying significance of this cultural event, or is it just another holiday mark on our calendars?

The Lunar New Year brings Chinese culture and heritage to town like clockwork. Malaysians look forward to festive lanterns, red paint, professional Lion Dances, and ang pows.

Among the many symbolic aspects carved out to usher in the New Year were the provision of ever plump and juicy mandarin oranges.

Mandarin oranges are a sure snack at home, school, and seasonal open homes.

But despite their huge figure and tasty extract, there aren’t many people outside the Chinese culture who properly comprehend the iconic importance of these mandarin oranges.

Put an end to the debate—why are mandarin oranges a significant part of Chinese New Year?

Oranges as a new year staple are wordplay, like many other Chinese proverbs.

Mandarin oranges were produced in China for centuries and given as gifts to royal court visitors.

During the reign of the Han Dynasty (221-206BC), there was even an official who was allocated a position to exhibit oranges in the imperial court, known as the minister of oranges.

Illustration image. (Image by: Alexander Grey)

For the term itself, mandarin oranges are referred to as gat zi (桔子) in Cantonese, as mentioned by Hong Kong journal Zolima CityMag.

The first Cantonese letter for mandarin oranges, gat (桔), sounds like gat (吉), which denotes auspiciousness in Chinese.

Replacing each of the first characters interchangeably, mandarin oranges are thought to hold the notion of bringing good luck.

It is also of customary significance for persons of an older age to offer mandarin oranges to those younger than them, mainly children, and families and friends, as a manner to bring them luck when visiting one another.

Again, júzi (橘子) for mandarin orange is similar to jīnzi (金子) for gold.

Citrus fruits are treasured because their orange colour resembles gold.

The festival’s prominence of kumquat trees, whose Mandarin character is jīn jú (金橘) like gold, supports this hypothesis.

Like its Cantonese equivalent, offering mandarin oranges to loved ones during Chinese New Year symbolises wishing them happiness and wealth for the year ahead.

Info source – Says

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