Cherries symbolize a number of meanings, including the cycle of life, death and rebirth, as well as reproduction. The meanings embodied by cherries have varied through history, and the fruit and its blossoms hold different meanings in societies around the world. In some countries, such as Japan and China, cherries are particularly meaningful and have held cultural value to their citizens since ancient times.
Cherries and cherry trees have been praised for thousands of years by the Japanese for their beauty, taste, fragrance and mysticism. In Japan, the cherry, also called sakura, has symbolized life, death, rebirth and rejuvenation. Ancient Japanese looked to crops of cherry trees to predict seasonal growth patterns, and cherry blossoms have been offered to Kamikaze pilots to honor their courageous and selfless actions during World War II.
Cherry blossoms were first memorialized by the Japanese around the year 710 A.D. During this time, cherry trees were transplanted from remote mountainous regions to urban areas. The trees were regarded as sacred beings and worshiped in many folk religions. Later, cherries were used as metaphors for the ritualistic suicides of Samurai warriors, who often decorated their military equipment with cherry blossoms before entering battle.
Cherries are also considered symbols of friendship and political peace. Japan honors its political allies, including the United States, by sending gifts of cherry trees.