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som (ส้ม)

Thai for ‘orange’. It refers to both the colour and the fruit. When referring to the fruit it may be specified with the prefix ‘look’ and when referring to the colour the prefix ‘see’ may be added, and an orange tree is called ‘ton som’. Oranges originated either in Southeast Asia or southern China and in a number of languages it is known as the Chinese apple, e.g. the Dutch ‘sinaasappel’. Its Latin name (Citrus sinensis) also gives away its origin and the name of the smaller ‘mandarin’ (Citrus reticulata - fig.) equally refers to a Chinese origin, and is in Thai known as som jihn (ส้มจีน) or som khiaw wahn (ส้มเขียวหวาน), meaning Chinese orange’ and ‘green sweet orange’, respectively. Its English name, however, derives from the Sanskrit naranga. Thailand has a suitable climate to grow oranges but concentrates more often than not on the smaller mandarins, mainly for own use. Before being sold on the market they are sorted by size (fig.). A special kind of oranges, known as som si thong or ‘golden orange’, is grown in the northern province of Nan. Though of the same species as oranges of the Central Plain, climatic differences make this specific golden-skinned type more aromatic. A green and tasty, sweet kind of orange, known as som Shogun (ส้มโชกุน), is the leading economic crop of the southernmost province of Yala. In Chinese tradition, oranges are popular fortune fruits given to beloved ones during Trut Jihn, i.e. Chinese New Year. The giving of oranges represents the wish to share ones fortune, with oranges symbolizing gold, a commodity that Chinese people typically give to each other during Chinese New Year (fig.). See also POSTAGE STAMPS (1) and (2).