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The Mysterious Symbolism of Cherries – An Interesting Guide

The Mysterious Symbolism of Cherries – An Interesting Guide

There are few things that taste better than fresh cherries. This is why there are so many delicious dishes that have cherries as the main ingredient.

But, did you know that there is a lot more to cherries than the fact that they are delicious and nutritious?

For hundreds of years, cherries have been very important in literature and art, and cherry symbolism is huge in both.

The meaning behind cherries is varied. This tasty fruit appears in many cultures, in many different eras.

The cherries we love to eat originally came from Asia, where they are grown in the rich soil that lies between the Black and Caspian Seas.

Even today, no one is quite sure how cherries came to Europe, but most of us are some glad they did! We do know that they came to America in the 1600's, and have continued to grow in popularity all over the world.

You will find cherries referenced by Theophrastus, a Greek philosopher who lived between 371 and 287 BCE.

There is mention of Roman conquerors and Chinese aristocrats enjoying cherries. This was a food for all, from the working class to the aristocratic.

Today we are going to take a look at cherry symbolism, their spiritual meaning, and more. Let's get started.

Cherry History

Cherry history

Did you know that the cherry dates back thousands of years? Actually, there is documentation of cherries as far back as ancient Roman times, way back to 72 BC.

Here is something very interesting to consider. Some living cherry trees actually date back almost to these times!

There are cherry trees in Japan that are thought to be over 1,000 years old.

Another cherry tree, located on the grounds of Jisso-ji Temple in Hokuto, Japan may be close to 2,000 years old!

This tree has a very dense trunk with a circumference that is nearly the same as its height, about 30 feet.

Here is an interesting tidbit. There are over 1,000 varieties of cherries growing in the wild throughout the world. But, less than 10 of these varieties are grown to produce edible fruit.

Today, there are two main types of cherries grown in the US, sweet and tart. Within these types are a few different varieties.

When speaking of the sweet cherries, we think of Bing cherries first and foremost.

Other sweet varieties include the Lambert cherry, as well as the Rainier cherry. Both are grown in Oregon, California, and Washington.

You will find the tart cherries being grown in such areas as Wisconsin and Michigan.

Cherry Symbolism

The cherry is not just a delicious fruit. It is also very symbolic in cultures all over the world.

For instance, in Japan, the cherry is a symbol of good fortune. It can also symbolize new beginnings.

Japanese folklore states that when the cherry tree is revered for not only its precious fruit, but also its beauty.

The cherry represents beauty and pleasure.

Because the blossoms only last for a short period, they can also be symbolic of the time we have to share with others and give to ourselves.

Time is short, and we have to do as much as we can in the time that is given to us. The cherry is a reminder of this.

In ancient China, cherries were thought to symbolize immortality.

There is a Chinese legend that speaks of the goddess Xi Wang Mu. She had a garden with cherries of immortality.

These cherries only ripened once every thousand years.

Cherries in Mythology

Cherries in mythology

Ancient mythology is filled with lore about the cherry.

For instance, it was thought that cherry trees and their fruit contained the elixir that gave the gods immortality.

It may even be that the cherry was thought to be ambrosia (food of gods), or at least part of it.

In ancient Buddhist lore, the cherry is symbolic of femininity and fertility.

One legend states that Buddha's mother was supported by a holy cherry tree while she was birthing her son.

There is also Chinese lore about cherries. For instance, some tales talk of the Phoenix and the cherry blossom.

It is said that the Phoenix would bless a cherry blossom with everlasting life by sleeping on a bed of the flowers.

The cherry is also very symbolic in western culture. It is thought that the cherry is a symbol of good luck and future happiness.

RELATED: Mushrooms: Their Strange & Surprising Symbolic Meanings

Cherry Symbolism in Christianity

Most of us don't take the time to think about what many things may symbolize, including cherries.

But, you might be surprised to learn just how symbolic cherries actually are in many cultures around the world.

For instance, you will find cherries in medieval literature and art. Take “The Cherry-Tree Carol”. This Christmas song has been around since the fifteenth century.

In this song, a pregnant Mary and her husband Joseph travel to Bethlehem to take part in the census.

During their travels, they stop to have a rest, and they just happen to stop at a cherry orchard.

Mary asks her husband to pick some of the cherries, for nourishment for herself and the unborn Christ child. Joseph denies her request, saying that the real father should pick them for her, not him.

Christ then speaks to the cherry tree from the womb, ordering it to lower a branch so Mary can easily pick the cherries herself. When the branch lowers, Joseph is instantly repentant of his words.

Let's take a look at some more cherry symbolism in Christianity from around the world.

The Shepherd's Play

Shepherd and sheep

Wakefield Master's “The Shepherd's Play” is another great example of cherry symbolism.

This tale tells of poor shepherd's visiting Mary and the Christ child while they were in the Bethlehem stable.

The shepherds are only able to bring the lowliest of gifts due to their poverty, but still wanted to present something to the child.

The gift from the first shepherd is a bunch of cherries.

The tale tells us that the cherry is a humble gift, but one that is more than good as a substitute for the treasures brought by kings and others.

Sir Cleges

Sir Cleges, a medieval chivalric romance, talks about a knight who prays at the base of a tree, begging for wealth for his family.

He looks upwards, and notices that the tree is suddenly filled with cherries.

He sees this as a miracle, and a sign of good things to come. He, along with his son, delivers the cherries to the king, who grants him the wealth he prayed for.

The Sexual Symbolism of Cherries

Throughout the years, cherries have taken on a different sort of symbolism, one that is much more sexual in nature.

Many euphemisms used to describe sex in literature were used to describe cherries.

Let's use “A Midsummer Night's Dream” by William Shakespeare as an example. In this play, Thisbe states, “My cherry lips have often kissed thy stones”.

It is thought that “stones” in this sentence is in reference to testicles.

Then, there are the words from poets Josuah Sylvester and Robert Herrick. They used cherries as a comparison to breasts and nipples.

English poet Charles Cotton described black cherries as being much like pubic hair.

French authors Michel Millot and Jean L'Ange compared the tip of a penis to a cherry in “The School of Venus”.

Throughout the years, the sexual symbolism of cherries has become even more graphic.

For instance, in 1889, the Oxford English Dictionary refers to the cherry as being symbolic of a woman's hymen. Hence the term, “losing one's cherry”.

Today you will find many sexual references using the word, “cherry”. These references can be found in popular literature, music, and more.

Some examples include “Cherry Pie” by Warrant and “Cherry Bomb” by The Runaways.

Double Cherry Symbolism

Double cherry symbolism

Often, we see symbols that show double cherries. Is there a specific meaning for this?

The symbolism of the double cherry goes back to the days of Shakespear. In his play, “A Midsummer Night's Dream”, the double cherry is referenced.

In Act III, Scene II, Helena is comparing her friendship with Hermia to two cherries growing on the same branch.

In her comparison, she is saying that she and Hermia are like sisters, even though they don't share a blood relationship.

This comes at a moment in the play where Helena thinks that Hermia and some boys were ridiculing her. She is hurt, and she explains her feelings in this comparison.

Today, the double cherry is often seen as a symbol of friendship. You will often find best friends heading to local tattoo shops to have double cherries tattooed onto their bodies to represent their friendship.

Dreaming about Cherries

Have you found yourself dreaming about cherries and wondering what your dreams mean? There are several cherry dream meanings, depending on the context of the dream.

Let's say you were dreaming about seeing sweet, delicious red cherries, but you didn't eat them in the dream.

This may indicate a wish to meet that special someone and fall in love.

It could also mean that now is the time to make a decision when it comes to your romantic relationship.

Since the cherry is a symbol of fertility, it could be that your dream is about your wanting to start a family.

Let's take a look at some more cherry dream meanings.

1. Economic Prosperity

The cherry is often seen as a symbol of economic prosperity. If you see a cherry in your dreams, it could mean that you have recently obtained something, have achieved a goal, or are in line for a promotion in your job.

2. Dreaming of Cherries on a Tree

Dreaming of cherries

If you are dreaming about cherries appearing on a tree, it is a positive thing.

After all, the cherry is a symbol of many great things, including fertility, love, friendship, abundance, luck, and hope.

The cherry also represents the gioia and good luck. This luck can be in many areas, including your love life or your career.

3. Eating Cherries in a Dream

There are different theories about dreams of eating cherries.

For example, if the fruit is ripe, sweet, and juicy, the dream's meaning is a positive one.

It may indicate your satisfaction with your lot in life, as well as your happiness.

Dreaming of eating cherries is also considered to be an omen of meeting a potential romantic interest. This is particularly true if one is eating two cherries in the dream.

Dreaming about eating two cherries can also be seen as sexual. The cherries may represent male testicles, and the dream could be about sexual satisfaction.

4. Dreams about Cherries that are Unripe or Rotten

Not all dreams about cherries involve ripe, juicy cherries. It may be that you have had dreams about cherries that are unripe or even rotten.

If the dream is about unripe cherries, it could mean that one is reaching too high, and striving to achieve impossible goals.

The unconscious is telling the dreamer that they are not ready to reach their goals.

If the dream is about rotten cherries, it could be symbolic of pain and regret, and even delusion. The dream could be a sign that things are going to get worse before they can begin to get better.

5. Picking, Buying, or Selling Cherries in a Dream

Selling Cherries

There are other actions involving cherries besides eating them. Maybe you have dreamed about picking cherries. This is often a sign that you will soon embark on a secret love affair.

Or, another meaning could be that you are trying to reach a goal, but you are continuously thwarted by outside sources.

If you are dreaming about buying cherries, you may be getting a sign that you will soon reach your goals you have set for yourself. These goals are likely pertaining to your love life.

Dreaming of selling cherries is thought to be about insecurity and the inability to make decisions. This could be in your career or in your personal life.

Symbolic Cherry Tattoos

As we have already mentioned throughout this article, the cherry is symbolic of many things. Such is the case with cherry tattoos.

We all know that the cherry is symbolic of sexuality and virginity, but there are many other things that cherries can symbolize. These symbols are often represented in tattoos.

1. Japanese Cherry Tattoos

Japan is well-known for its connection to cherries, cherry trees, cherry blossoms, and cherry wood. Often, we see cherries in traditional Japanese art.

For instance, there is much artwork depicting Samurai warriors with cherries. The fruit was symbolic of the Samurai's willingness to die. Today, we often see many Samurai tattoos that include cherries.

2. Christian Cherry Tattoos

It is strange for many to see the words “Christian” and “tattoos” together, as it states in the Bible that man should not mark himself.

In Leviticus 19:28, it states, “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you”.

Never the less, many Christians do adorn themselves with tattoos, and often the cherry is depicted in this art.

For Christians, cherries are considered to be the “fruit of paradise”.

It is not uncommon to find cherries depicted in Christian art, so it only makes sense that they also appear on Christian-themed tattoos.

3. Cherries on a Stem Tattoos

Many people choose to have cherries on stems in their tattoo art. The cherry on a stem is symbolic of youth.

So, many people who want to show off their inner child or hold onto their youth will adorn themselves with cherry tattoo designs.

A Final Word about Cherries

We hope you have enjoyed learning about cherry symbolism. There is much to be said for this tiny fruit.

The cherry is so much more than a tasty treat. It is a symbol of many things, from virginity and sexuality to good luck to immortality and more.

If you keep seeing cherries, in everyday life and in your dreams, know that good things are likely coming your way very soon.