Apricots ripen in the early summer, but they’re quite commonly dried so that way we can enjoy them year round. The word ‘apricot’ in Latin purportedly means “precious”, but further investigation reveals that while this moniker is appropriate, it actually comes from Arabic ‘al barqūq’ (“early ripe”) via French ‘abricot’.
“Early ripe” is appropriate because apricots tend to ripen earlier than most summer fruits. Drying apricots has been a common preservation practice for centuries. Most store-bought apricots retain the bright orange colour that the fruits have when ripe. Organic dried apricots would be more brown in colour and the bright orange is a sign that the fruits were treated with sulphur compounds.
History of Apricot Day
From what we could find on the matter, the apricot tree was domesticated in China some 4,000 years ago. From there, apricots made their way across Asia to the Mediterranean region. The Spanish Conquistadores introduced apricots to the Americas back in the 16th century, planting the trees all over what is now the west coast of the United States.
Today, while the US is not among the top producers of apricots globally, 95% of the apricots grown in the United States come from the San Joaquin Valley in California. Apricots are tasty, healthy, and should be eaten whenever possible. Therefore you should enjoy apricots in celebration of these wonderful golden fruits.
How to celebrate Apricot Day
It would be too obvious for us to simply tell you to go out and buy some dried apricots and then take them home and eat them. So what we’re suggesting instead is an apricot-themed day, where you incorporate apricots into various foods, and maybe even celebrate with some Barack (apricot brandy, not Obama . . . though if you’re in contact with him, why not to invite him for an apricot celebration?). Apricots are rich in nutrients, so you can’t really go overboard. They can be used in more ways than you think too, so be creative.
While we don’t know if they celebrate any sort of Apricot Day in China, we will say that the apricot is associated with education and medicine there. The classical word 杏壇 literally means “apricot altar” and is still commonly used in the written language to describe an educational circle.
There’s a story that Confucius taught his students surrounded by a grove of apricot trees, so we’d imagine that strong and lasting imagery of a philosopher teaching his students would lead to popular connotations of education by Chinese society some centuries later.
While we already know that apricots are quite good for you, traditional Chinese medicine takes that a step further and utilises apricot kernels quite freely. Since the Chinese are believed to have domesticated the apricot tree, it’s only fitting that it also bears significance there.
Fresh apricots are tasty, refreshing, and should be eaten whenever possible. Dried apricots are almost as delicious and can be had throughout the year. Apricot Day doesn’t seem to fall in apricot season, but we still suggest that you go and indulge in some apricots in celebration.