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The Origin of Giving an Apple to the Teacher

Apples are everywhere at the beginning of the school year. And although this is no longer the 1950s and your kids probably won't ask you to buy an apple for their teacher, they've come to represent the start of the school year. So, just for your entertainment, we've complied a little background on the subject, courtesy of Gourmet, Children's Museum of Indianapolis, and PBS. You're welcome.
 
While the true origin of this small red gift is somewhat of a mystery, the apple is a powerful symbol of knowledge and education. From Greek mythology’s references of a divine fruit to the story of Adam and Eve and the lesson of right and wrong, we do know the apple’s symbolism got an early start in human history.
 
The gifting of this fruit is often associated with hardships throughout world history. According to Gourmet, in the 1700s, poor families in Denmark and Sweden gave teachers baskets of apples as payment for their children’s educations.
 
According to a PBS Special titled, “Frontier House, Frontier Life,” early American children gave teachers apples because the “families whose children attended schools were often responsible for housing and feeding frontier teachers." It is also said that farmers' kids gave struggling teachers apples during the onset of the Great Depression.
 
Unfortunately, this kind gesture of helping a teacher through difficult times began to disappear as the phrase “apple-polisher” became a negative term. Bing Crosby sang it best in 1939: “An apple for the teacher will always do the trick when you don’t know your lesson in arithmetic.”
 
Giving a teacher an apple is still a kind way to show a teacher your appreciation. If you're up for it, feel free to bring in a basket or two... Or better yet, give them a whole orchard!

 

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