Have you ever received a tangerine in your Christmas stocking? Most people prefer to get gift cards, care products, and chocolate, but citrus fruits are part of a tradition that just keeps on going. If you’ve ever wondered why are tangerines associated with Christmas, then read on! The answer might pleasantly surprise you.
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Is Tangerine a Christmas Fruit?
The tangerine is only considered a Christmas fruit because of its ripeness season.
Remember that every fruit comes into ripeness at a different time. This is why we have perfectly ripe strawberries in June and apples in September.
Tangerines are at their ripest between October and January. As a result, they’re abundant in grocery stores and fruit markets around Christmas time. They’re gloriously sweet and juicy, and make welcome additions to the holiday table.
People have traditionally saved up as much money as they could so that their Christmas celebrations could be quite lavish. After all, this is the most important holiday of the year for many people. They might choose to eat quite simply for weeks (if not months) in advance so they can buy the best, most delicious morsels to enjoy and share at the Yule table.
Since there will be a few months of cold scarcity after the Christmas celebrations, the holiday menu might be quite rich and heavy. There will be a lot of carbohydrates and fats: lots of baked goods, nuts, oils, and protein. Tangerines—with their sweet juiciness and mild acidity—are a welcome counterbalance to the thick, heavy dishes that will be on offer.
The entire flavor of the season is “abundance”. Consider displaying a big bowl of tangerines and walnuts on your holiday table this year so friends and family can help themselves whenever they like.
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Why are Tangerines Associated with Christmas?
Pull up a chair while we tell you the tale of how tangerines got associated with Christmas.
You might already be familiar with the story of St. Nicholas, who evolved into the character we now know as Santa Claus or Father Christmas. He developed a reputation about secret gift-giving, especially towards those who were extremely poor or suffering.
You may have heard the story about how he rescued three young girls from being forced into horrible life circumstances. Their father was very ill and dying, and was too poor to be able to provide dowries for them. Without dowries, nobody would be willing to marry them. As a result, the girls would have either ended up as beggars or prostitutes.
Nicholas helped them by dropping three small round purses of gold coins through their window one night so each girl would have enough of a dowry to get her a good husband.
The oranges people give one another at Christmastime represent the abundance and joy of these small bags of gold. Tangerines are some of the sweetest orange fruits out there. They embody sweetness and prosperity and are bright moments of joy during a time of cold darkness. As such, they’re the quintessential emblems of Christmas delight and giving.
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Sweetness in a Time of Scarcity
There’s another reason why tangerines are associated with Christmas. Although satsumas and other orange citrus fruits may be easier to peel, tangerines are some of the sweetest fruits you can get your hands on.
During times of scarcity, fruit was incredibly rare to come by. This was especially true during the Great Depression and World War II. As a result, a beautiful orange fruit would have been an incredibly precious, treasured gift. Not only would it have allowed the recipient to experience a moment of perfect sweetness in winter’s gloom—it would have also given them a much-needed burst of vitamin C.
In fact, that one little tangerine might have save their lives. It could have offered them enough of a C boost to help them fend off a bad winter cold or flu. It’s likely that many children made it through to springtime thanks to receiving a tangerine in their Christmas stocking.
Now you’ve learned the answer to “why are tangerines associated with Christmas”. Maybe from now on, you’ll appreciate their holiday presence a bit more! Instead of being confused if they appear in your Christmas stocking, take a moment to really savor them.
If you’d really like something special, take a bite of good dark chocolate and eat a tangerine segment at the same time. These two ingredients compliment one another perfectly, and make for a rather amazing holiday snack.
Hey, I’m Joey. I’ve been cooking since I was a little kid and love everything about it. You can find my writing about food, kitchen appliances (such as blenders) and much more. Thanks for stopping by!