The Spiritual Appeal of Cherries

Launching this year on March 20 in Washington, D.C., the National Cherry Blossom Festival is a glittering event drawing into the nation’s capital annually over 1.5 million people. They come, of course, to admire the beauty of the sparkling cherry blossom trees that encircle the Tidal Basin and the Washington Monument. But visitors can also indulge in numerous entertaining events after they have strolled around admiring the pink-and-white blossoms. The peak bloom time lasts a week to maybe 10 days, but the festival may last up to three weeks. The event originated in 1935 as a springtime celebration and as a way to thank a Japanese prince for gifting these trees to the United States back in the early 1900s as a way to make a bond with America.

Perhaps people strolling around the Tidal Basin are inspired to go home and eat cherries. But what most may not realize is that the Cherry Blossom trees do not produce edible cherries. According to one researcher, there may be about 1000 types of cherries. Other research states that there may be only 32 to 43 types of edible cherries. These include the very popular Bing, Maraschino, and Rainier cherries.

What else most people may not realize is that the cherry itself is an ancient plant with historical and Biblical significance. “…cherries were likely present even during the Old Testament period,” noted Sam Ellis. “The first mention of cherries in literature is in Theophrastus’ book, Historia Plantarum or the History of Plants. The book was written between 350 and 287 B.C. In it, the author says cherries have been cultivated for hundreds of years. So it’s highly likely they were present in ancient Israel.” 

An article by Philip Kosloski in Aleteia about the spiritual symbolism of fruit, depicted a photo of a painting of the infant Christ sitting on Our Blessed Mother’s lap grasping a bunch of cherries. As the article noted, “Known for its sweetness, cherries symbolize a sweet character and the sweetness of Paradise. The Christ child is often shown holding a cherry.”

According to author Barbara Spicer on her website, the cherry has had an artistic link to Christianity because the cherry is often related to the “sweetness of Paradise. This connection is evident in numerous religious paintings and artworks, where the Christ child is depicted holding a cherry, emblematic of his divine nature and the promise of eternal bliss. The cherry’s allure lies in its capacity to evoke notions of innocence and virtue, making it a fitting symbol for the teachings of Christianity,” she wrote.

According to Grace Mitchell, a spiritual guide and the author of an article about the symbolism behind cherries, “Cherries have a long history of cultural significance, representing love, fertility, rebirth, and innocence in various civilizations,” she said. “In religious and spiritual contexts, cherries symbolize divine fruit, sacrifice, renewal, and new beginnings.” She added that in Christianity, because of their deep red color, cherries are frequently associated with the blood of Christ shed by Jesus on the cross. She also noted that cherries, because of their seeds that can grow, are linked to the idea of resurrection and eternal life in Christianity.

Fortunately, with springtime now and summer in the offing, cherry lovers can look forward to picking up their favorites at market. That means that they can not only indulge in a bowl full of cherries, they can also head to the kitchen and assemble a yummy cherry offering. See below…

Southern Cherry Cobbler

According to the cook, Teresa Ambra, “This amazing cobbler includes fresh cherries, almond extract, and a delicious biscuit-type topping sprinkled with sugar before baking. It’s a terrific summer dessert when fresh cherries are in season.” (

15 Servings


8 cups cherries, pitted and halved

¼ cup brown sugar, packed

¼ cup granulatd sugar

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon almond extract


2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

½ cup brown sugar, packed

½ cup granulate sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, cold

1/3 to 1/2 cup boiling water

Sugar Topping

3 tablespoons granulated sugar


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 9-inch x 13-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray.

Place the cherries in a large mixing bowl. Add the sugars, corn starch, lemon juice, and almond extract, stirring to combine. Pour the cherry mixture into a prepared baking dish. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven.

Meanwhile, prepare the topping. Mix the flour, sugars, baking powder, and salt with a wooden spoon until well combined. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until coarse crumbs form. Add the boiling water and stir just until moistened. (Add only enough boiling water to moisten ingredients).

Dollop the topping over the top of the hot cherries. Sprinkle with the Sugar Topping. Bake an additional 30 to 40 minutes or until the cherries are cooked through when tested with a fork, and the topping is golden brown.

Photo by Mark Tegethoff on Unsplash

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A convert to Catholicism, Alexandra Greeley is a food writer, restaurant critic, and cookbook author, who is passionate about every aspect of the food world — from interviewing chefs to supporting local farmers and to making the connection between food and faith. Her latest work is Cooking with the Saints.

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