Did you know that unwrapping Mandarin oranges is a Canadian holiday tradition we’ve been enjoying for over 120 years? Oranges travelled by ship and were packed in wooden crates, hand tied in pairs to form a bundle. The crates were quickly unloaded and shipped across the country by orange trains. The brightly painted orange boxcars let everyone along the way know that the Mandarins had arrived and with them the start of the holiday season. These sturdy wooden crates were a favourite gift to give and receive, and once the oranges were eaten, they became instant sleds, tool boxes, and dollhouses.
Mandarin oranges gained their name from the bright orange robes worn by the mandarins, public officials of the ancient Chinese court. When exporting began, Mandarin oranges were named after their port of origin. Tangerines were the first to be exported to North America and were named after the city of Tangiers in Morocco.