IT’S the year of the rooster, and the tree we’ve chosen, or rather which chose us for the New Year, is the Tangerine. According to the Chinese New Year symbols, celebration and tradition, oranges and tangerines are auspicious and symbolize abundance, happiness and prosperity. While the lovely orange colour reflects gold, and hence points at luck and wealth, the tangerine or the mandarin orange is given as a gift to family and friends on New Year’s to usher in good fortune.
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For blessings, they are also placed under children’s pillows and in rice containers. And if you feel like investing in one, follow the Chinese, who buy the trees in pairs, for then it ‘doubles all the good luck’. Interestingly, in our quest to find out more about these ‘golden balls’, we came across another nugget of info – tangerines are also used to stuff Christmas stockings, placed into the toe.
Legend has it that St. Nicholas, who inherited a large sum of money, would throw sacks of gold down the chimney to help poor men afford suitors for their daughters, and it would land in the stockings of the girls left out to dry by the fire. Over time, the tangerine or orange was used as a symbol of gold.
From the Alliance Francaise in Sector 36, the Water Works in sector 26, the Government Nursery in Sector 23 to schools, residences and other assorted venues, tangerine trees are a common sight in Chandigarh and are laden with bright fruit at the moment. For those who are into harvesting it, you can make delicious jams and marmalade from these sweet and sour miniature beauties.
Citrus tangerina are a type of mandarin orange (Citrus reticulata), and belong to the Rutaceae family. Apparently, the name comes from Tangier, Morocco. You can find it in garden nurseries, and it can be grown in a pot as well as on the ground. Make sure the soil is moist and the plant gets its fertilizer and plenty of sun – nothing extreme though, be it winters or summers.
Fresh and citrusy, the tangerine is low in calories and high in nutrients – for instance, it’s a rich source of vitamin C, folate, and beta-carotene. It’s an antioxidant, helps in skin diseases, arthritis, heals cuts and wounds, absorbs iron from food, restricts cholesterol absorption and is high in fibre. Yes, definitely better than gold!