New Year's Eve is fast upon us, but I didn't want to let Christmas slip away....
(in your heart, never let Christmas slip away)
"... and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us!"* - Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol
Okay, so where was I? Oh.... Not letting the holiday slip away without mentioning a Christmas Eve tradition which is, as far as I know, uniquely Chinese....
The Christmas Apple.
In Chinese, Christmas Eve is called 平安夜(Píng'ān yè), literally "peaceful night." The title and verses of the lovely carol "Silent Night" are also translated in this way. Because the first character in the word "peace," 平(píng) and the first character in the word for "apple," 苹果(píngguǒ) are basically what we would deem homophones (sound the same, but with different meanings), these two unrelated objects have become now and forever linked. The giving of a cellophane wrapped and ribboned apple at this time of year has come to represent a wish for peace and health. And most often the gift giver will be a young man or woman in love.
This apple says, "我爱你"(Wǒ ài nǐ) or "I love you."
*I am indebted to John Holbo who supplied this great image from an 1843 version of A Christmas Carol illustrated by J. Leech.
Apple images all from Chinese shopping website Taobao (which does not sell to those outside of the Mandarin speaking world) and are credited to the following shops:
Mini Bears shop60317385.taobao.com