Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Oranges at Yuletide

Oranges have long been associated with Yule. They are bright orange and hence represent the Sun. They come ripe near the Solstice as well. The association of citrus fruit and the winter holidays grew strong in Europe. In fact, when I was in Holland one Christmas, my host carried a bag of tangerines and handed them out to friends and strangers alike. One day, when I gave up my seat on the train to an old woman, she smiled across our language barrier and gave me a mandarin. This tradition came along during immigration into America. It survived especially in Appalachia, becoming a symbol of the sweetness and brightness of the upcoming year. It became a well-established tradition -- one I experienced as a child -- to discover an orange in the toe of one's stocking each Christmas morning.

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