In Korean ancestral rituals on many occasions including Chuseok or Thanksgiving, fruits are traditionally offered as a way to pay respect and give thanks for the year’s harvest.
The front row of the table commonly features seasonal fruits, and jujubes, chestnuts, pears and persimmons should not be left out.
Jujubes are now rarer but are still used on such occasions because of their traditional significance.
A jujube contains a single large seed, which ancient Koreans thought symbolizes the king. A short person of firm character is often likened to a jujube seed, which is a big compliment.
Once a flower blooms on jujube trees, it always transforms into a fruit, so jujubes have come to symbolize fecundity.
The small pretty flowers bloom in May and June but are inconspicuous because of their greenish color.
Jujubes are also used as ingredients in Oriental herbal medicine or in cooking many Korean dishes such as samgyetang (chicken soup with ginseng) and rice cakes.