Peach – Symbolism
Both in China and Japan the peach is associated with immortality and a long life.
It is one of the “Three Blessed Fruits” in Buddhism and symbolizes longevity.
The other two fruits are citrus which symbolizes happiness and pomegranate which symbolizes fertility.
The peach and the rod made from peach wood is also the symbol of Shou. Shou is one of the Three Star Gods; he is the god of longevity.
In Ancient Greece the peach was the sacred fruit of the god of marriage, Hymen. At weddings the guests would chant “O Hymenæus Hymen, O Hyymenæus Hymen”. This was the day the virginal state of the bride ended. Peaches were a symbol of a happy marriage.
In the United States Georgia is often called “The Peach State”. It is the official state fruit of Georgia. Delaware has the peach blossom as its state flower.
The Queen Mother of the West – Chinese Mythology
The Queen Mother of the West was the Jade Emperor’s wife. Her name was Xi Wangmu. Her palace is at Mount Kunlun.
The Jade Emperor was the supreme ruler of all the gods. He had only daughters. A son could potentially threaten his power and that was not a risk he could take.
It was the Queen Mother of the West who was responsible for the eternal existence of the gods. Close to her courts on the mythical Mount Kunlun there was a peach tree which would blossom every 3000 years.
It was the fruit of this tree Xi Wangmu fed to the gods which ensured them immortality.
The Feast of the Peaches would take place on the third day of the third lunar month.
The peach blossom is a symbol of spring in Korea
In Korea the peach symbolizes happiness, prosperity, and longevity. It is a true good luck fruit.
Even though it is considered a lucky fruit, there are some occasions the Koreans will not bring peaches to the table.
It is told to have qualities which will drive away the spirits. Whenever honoring their ancestors it is well advised to keep this fruit far away.
Momotarō – The Peach Boy
In Japanese Momo means peach and tarō means eldest son. Momotarō is the Peach Boy hero in Japanese folklore. Stories about Momotarō are extremely popular in Japan.
There is an annual festival in his honor on May 5th called the Momotarō Festival at the Momotarō Shrine in Inuyama,Japan.
A short version of the Momotarō story
An elderly couple lived their quiet lives just getting by. They were childless.
One day the woman was down by the riverbanks washing clothes when she saw a huge peach floating in the water. She became quite excited because such a huge peach would provide enough food to last for several days.
Somehow the old woman managed to carry the fruit back to the hut they lived in. Eager to taste the delicious fruit the husband fetched a knife to cut open the peach.
Just as he was about to cut into this giant fruit it cracked open.
Inside the peach was a baby boy. They couple were shocked and astonished at first, but quickly calmed down.
They felt truly blessed. Their prayers had been heard. They finally had a son and named him Momotarō.
When Momotarō was around 15 years of age he announced to his parents that it was time for him to go out and do some good for the human race.
He had decided to travel to a distant island where some evil demons called oni resided. Off he went.
On his way to the island Momotarō made friends with a talking dog, a talking monkey and a talking pheasant. The three animals agreed to assist Momotarō in his quest to defeat the demons.
Their mission became a huge success. Momotarō and his animal friends returned to his adopted parents. They brought back the treasures they had encountered on the island.
Momotarō lived happily ever after caring for his parents.