The Three Friends of Winter

"For his residence, earth was piled to form a hill and a hundred plum trees, which along with lofty pines and tall bamboo comprise the friends of winter, were planted.”

That is a translation taken from the earliest known writing mentioning the Three Friends of Winter from the Song Dynasty writer Lin Jingxi (1242-1310 AD). They are referred to as the three friends because they do not wither in the cold days of winter as most other plants do. In China (and other Eastern Cultures) the three represent symbols of thriving under adverse conditions.

The pine represents longevity and endurance. The bamboo represents vitality, durability, and flexibility as it will bend in a storm but does not break. The Plum, which offers the first flower of the New Year, represents renewal, perseverance, and purity. The plum blossom also has 5 petals. The number 5 is an auspicious number in Chinese culture as it is associated with the five elements of water, fire, wood, metal and earth which are essential for a good life. The plum blossom is also a symbol associated with the Chinese New Year also known as the Spring Festival.

This is a particularly poetic example of how the Eastern Cultures approach thought and symbolism. It’s beautiful in art and poetry but it can be frustrating and costly if your business doesn’t take it seriously. Check out information about our cross cultural training services that will train your teams and company executives on the cultural nuances you’ll want to understand before doing business within new countries and cultures.